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With over thirty million automobiles in the 
United States today, and the problems of ve- 
hicular transportation increasingly complex 
and pressing, it seems almost incredible that 
this should be the first and only book that 
has ever comprehensively treated the subject 
both historically and with a view to offering 
a solution. Norman Bel Geddes, one of the 
foremost designers in the world, has been 
studying the situation intensively for several 
years. Out of his research came recently his 
spectacularly successful General Motors Fu- 
turama for the New York World's Fair, and 
now this fascinating book. 

Magic Motorways, after a brief review of 
the history of old and new roads and auto- 
motive traffic in America, presents a detailed 
plan for an entirely new type of national 
motorways system. At first, some of its fea- 
tures may strike the reader as a fantastic 
dream, but Mr. Geddes proves their practic- 
ability. Grandma wrapped her linen duster 
around her neck and fearfully went out for a 
spin at eight dizzy miles an hour. But your 
grandchildren will snap across the entire con- 
tinent in 24 hours on a new kind of highway 
and in a new kind of car that is controlled 
by the push of a button! 

This book is illustrated with numerous 
original drawings and over 150 photographs. 
It will prove of vital interest to everyone who 
drives or rides on the crowded city streets or 
highways of America. 





1 . Highways and Horizons 

2. Safety, Comfort, Speed and Economy 1 5 

3. Eliminate the Human Factor in Driving 43 

4. Separated Lanes of Traffic 59 

5 . Every Highway Intersection Is Obsolete 8 3 

6. Full Speed Through Bottlenecks 105 

7. Daylight Standards for Night Driving 123 

8. From the Atlantic to the Pacific in One Day 141 

9. Eliminate Graft and Double Highway Construction 165 

10. Motorway Service to Towns and Villages 185 

11. Motorway Tributaries to Cities 203 

12. Accelerating City Traffic One Hundred Per Cent 221 

13. The Need for Increased Distribution 247 

14. Thinking for Our Grandchildren 263 

15. Effects of a National Motorway System 285 


This book could hardly have been written without the invaluable help of Roger 
Nowland and Worthen Paxton, for whose constant encouragement and able advice 
I am very grateful; of Joan Geddes and William Harlan Hale in an editorial capacity; 
of Joseph Goldsen for statistical and historical material; of Peter Schladermundt and 
Russell Fudge, in assembling the illustrations. 

It would be quite impossible adequately to thank all the other individuals and or- 
ganizations who, in one way or another, have assisted me in the preparation of this 
volume. The book is the result of five years' concentrated study by members of my 
organization and people on the outside who have most generously put themselves at 
our disposal. 

I have made liberal use, not always accredited in the text, of the knowledge and 
ideas of the following organizations: 

American Association of State Highway Officials 

American Road Builders Association 

Automobile Club of Southern California 

Automobile Manufacturers Association 

Institute of Traffic Engineers 

National Highway Users Conference 

National Research Council 

National Safety Council 

Port of New York Authority 

Public Roads Administration 

Regional Plan Association of New York 

State Highway Departments of numerous states, especially New York, New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania and California 

Yale University Bureau for Street Traffic Research 




IIVE million people saw the Futurama of the General Motors Highways 
and Horizons Exhibit at the New York World's Fair during the summer of 
1939. In long queues that often stretched more than a mile, from 5,000 
to 15,000 men, women and children at a time, stood, all day long every 
day, under the hot sun and in the rain, waiting more than an hour for their 
turn to get a sixteen-minute glimpse at the motorways of the world of to- 
morrow. There have been hit shows and sporting events in the past which had 
waiting lines for a few days, but never before had there been a line as long as 
this, renewing itself continuously, month after month, as there was every day 
at the Fair. 

The people who conduct polls to find out why other people do things, 
and the editorial writers, newspaper men and columnists who report daily on 
the doings of the human race, all had their theory as to why the Futurama was 
the most popular show of any Fair in history. And most of them agreed that 
the explanation was really very simple: All of these thousands of people who 
stood in line ride in motor cars and therefore are harassed by the daily task of 


General Motors 


getting from one place to another, by the nuisances of intersectional jams, 
narrow, congested bottlenecks, dangerous night driving, annoying police- 
men's whistles, honking horns, blinking traffic lights, confusing highway 
signs, and irritating traffic regulations; they are appalled by the daily toll of 
highway accidents and deaths ; and they are eager to find a sensible way out of 
this planless, suicidal mess. The Futurama gave them a dramatic and graphic 
solution to a problem which they all faced. 

Masses of people can never find a solution to a problem until they are shown 
the way. Each unit of the mass may have a knowledge of the problem, and 
each may have his own solution, but until mass opinion is crystallized, brought 
into focus and made articulate, it amounts to nothing but vague grumbling. 
One of the best ways to make a solution understandable to everybody is to 
make it visual, to dramatize it. The Futurama did just this: it was a visual 
dramatization of a solution to the complex tangle of American roadways. 

As all those who saw it know, the Futurama is a large-scale model represent- 
ing almost every type of terrain in America and illustrating how a motorway 
system may be laid down over the entire country across mountains, over rivers 
and lakes, through cities and past towns never deviating from a direct course 
and always adhering to the four basic principles of highway design: safety, 
comfort, speed and economy. The motorways which stretch across the model 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

ms^V^< ><.: -*y./ :-K^ v s^P r *--c?cS5 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 



are exact replicas, in small scale, of motorways which may be built in America 
in the near future. They are designed to make automobile collisions impossible 
and to eliminate completely traffic congestion. Particular features of the 
motorways may perhaps be improved on, details of future road construction 
and engineering may differ, but the design of these motorways has been care- 
fully and thoughtfully worked out and is suggestive of probable future 

Much of the initial appeal of the Futurama was due to its imaginative qual- 
ity. But the reason that its popularity never diminished was that its boldness 
was based on soundness. The plan it presented appealed to the practical 
engineer as much as to the idle day-dreamer. The motorways which it featured 
were not only desirable, but practical. 

As each spectator rode around the model in his comfortable, upholstered 
armchair, he listened to a description of it in a voice which came from a small 
speaker built into the back of the chair. This recorded description synchro- 
nized with the movement of the chairs and explained the main features of 
what was passing before the spectator's eyes. It directed his attention to the 
great arterial highways which were segregated into different speed lanes and 
which looked so different from the roads of today. It pointed out the over- 
passes, high-speed intersections and wide bridges over which tear-drop motor 
cars whisked by at a hundred miles an hour. It commented in passing on the 
surrounding scenery, the planned cities, decentralized communities and ex- 
perimental farms. But it did not describe in detail how any of this was to be 
accomplished. It did not explain how the highway system worked. It could 
not dwell at length on any specific points of interest because of the short 
time available. 

There was much more to see, and no time to see it. There was much more to 
explain, and no time to explain it. Millions of people, by waiting patiently for 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 



their turn in the chairs, demonstrated that the prospects of America's future 
concern them. They showed that the problems of transportation vitally inter- 
est them. But there was no time to satisfy that interest fully. They saw the 
world of tomorrow lying there invitingly before them a world that looked 
like Utopia and that did not seem to have a very close relation to the world 
they knew. But they weren't let in on the secret of how it had developed; 
they weren't told how it worked. 

This book will take you backstage. It will answer the many questions which 
the Futurama left unanswered. The Futurama and this book are two different 
treatments of the same material. The book is a description of the exhibit, just 
as the exhibit is an illustration of this text. And the book will do two things 
which the Futurama could not do. First, it will describe the premises, based on 
American experience, on which such a future transportation system is built; 
and second, it will suggest the consequences, technical and economic and so- 
cial, which will result from such a future transportation system. Starting 
from the facts of congestion, confusion, waste and accidents, we have gone 
through analysis and blueprints until we have come out on the other side with 
an over-all plan. We have come out with transcontinental roads built for a 
maximum of one hundred and a minimum of fifty miles an hour. We have 
come out with cars that are automatically controlled, which can be driven 
safely even with the driver's hands off the wheel. We have discovered that 
people could be driving from San Francisco to New York in twenty-four 
hours if roads were properly designed. Peering through the haze of the present 
toward 1960 is a great adventure. It is an adventure so broad in its attack and 
so far-reaching in its consequences that there is no reason why each reader, 
layman as well as expert, should not repeat it now for himself and discover 
where it leads. 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


In designing the Futurama, we reproduced actual sections of the country 
Wyoming, Pennsylvania, California, Missouri, New York, Idaho, Virginia 
combining them into a continuous terrain. We used actual American cities 
St. Louis, Council Bluffs, Reading, New Bedford, Concord, Rutland, 
Omaha, Colorado Springs projecting them twenty years ahead. And we of 
course took already existing highways into account, making use of their most 
advanced features and, at the same time, projecting them also twenty years 

There are many highways which strike us today as excellent among 
others, the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, the boulevard through the Great 
Smokies in the Southeast, the highway over the Santa Cruz Mountains in 
California, and New York City's great system of approaches and peripheral 


highways. In comparison with what we have had in the past, these are fine 
roads, representing a tremendous advance over the roads of yesterday. But the 
roads of tomorrow will represent an equally great advance over those of the 
present, and it is toward this future development that the Futurama pointed 
the way. 

The Motorway System as visualized in the Futurama and described in this 
book has been arbitrarily dated ahead to 1960 twenty years from now. But 
it could be built today. It is not too large a job for a generation which has 
replaced the plodding horse and buggy with the swift-moving automobile, 
which has grown wings and spanned the world with them, which has built 
skyscrapers a thousand feet high. Modern engineering is capable of mag- 
nificent accomplishments. 

Already the automobile has done great things for people. It has taken man 
out beyond the small confines of the world in which he used to live. Distant 
communities have been brought closer together. Throughout all recorded 
history, man has made repeated efforts to reach out farther and to communi- 
cate with other men more easily and quickly, and these efforts have reached 
the climax of their success in the twentieth century. This increasing freedom 
of movement makes possible a magnificently full, rich life for the people of 
our time. A free-flowing movement of people and goods across our nation is a 
requirement of modern living and prosperity. 

People who have achieved a partial success are often inclined to sit back 
self-satisfied and blind themselves to the fact that the success is only partial. 
Because we today move more freely 
than our ancestors, we have a tendency 
to overlook the fact that we should be 
able to move ten times more freely. We 
are satisfied with the mere possession of 


Ewing Gall< 

the automobile, and fail to make use of its full potentialities. Many of us do 
not realize that our cars can reliably do up to eighty-five miles an hour, but 
that the average speed of motor traffic in the United States is twenty miles 
an hour; that although our cars have been designed for efficiency and econ- 
omy, the loss due to traffic congestion in New York City alone is a million 
dollars a day; that although our cars have been designed for safety, there is a 
death toll on American roads today of almost four lives every hour, ninety 
every single day, 2,700 a month, and 32,400 a year! Until recently, we have 
been told that the cure for these paradoxes lies in hit-or-miss, spasmodic road 
"improvements" and catchy safety slogans. But we are due to open our eyes 
any day now, and demand a comprehensive, basic solution to a comprehensive, 
basic problem. 

If a word-association psychologist asked you to speak the first word that 
comes into your head after you hear the word "traffic," you would probably 
answer, not "flow" or "movement," but "congestion." You would get a men- 
tal picture of the crowded approach to the Eads Bridge in St. Louis over the 
Mississippi, or of cars jammed bumper to bumper at the intersection of State 
and Madison in Chicago, or perhaps just of a suburban crossroad and the 
accident that occurred there last Saturday after the Country Club dance. The 
word "traffic" is usually taken to mean "too many cars." But, actually, traffic 
is simply the flow of cars along a road, and roads are supposed to be built to 
accommodate that traffic. When traffic is congested, the answer is not that 
there are too many cars, but that the roads have not been designed to perform 

Ewinq Galloway 


Margaret Bourke-White 

their function properly. Their construction and design are inefficient. 
The real trouble with American highways is the simple fact that they are 
not designed for the traffic they bear. The automobile has advanced in much 
greater strides than have roads. It has attained a far greater point of perfec- 
tion. Automobiles are in no way responsible for our traffic problem. The 


entire responsibility lies in the faulty roads, which are behind the times. 

When the horse was discarded, the winding roads over which he joggled 
were not discarded with him. The automobile inherited them. Some of them 
have been "improved" from time to time, but their basic features have remained 
unchanged. The result of pushing motor cars out over these old roads was at 
first simply a mild havoc and runaway horses, but later, the Traffic Problem. 
Today we are still rebuilding old roads that were constructed for another 
vehicle, instead of starting to build special roads for the special needs of the 

This simple fact is the key to the whole present-day traffic problem. 

A brief glance at the history of road building in this country will make 
clear how vitally this anachronism has affected the development of American 
automotive transportation. 



N LAYING out roads, certain basic principles are always followed. From the 
beginning of time, whenever people have tried to get from one place to an- 
other, they have kept these same basic aims in mind. The first is their desire 
for self-preservation; the second is their desire for a pleasant trip; the third is 
their desire to reach their goal quickly; and the fourth is their desire to spend 
as little money and effort on the way as possible. 

Now, for self-preservation, read safety; for a convenient and pleasant trip, 
read comfort; for a quick arrival, read speed; and for a saving of expense and 
effort, read economy; and you have the four main principles which guide 
or should guide the modern road builder. 

Although these aims or principles are very specific, their application with 
reference to road development varies with enormous latitude. A bird flying 
from one point to another, never swerving to right or left, is following the 
principles of safety, comfort, speed and economy as he sees them. On the other 
hand, a man in a forest, moving slowly, twisting first this way then that way, 
avoiding dangerous ledges and carefully going out of his way to pass around 









Portland Cement Assn. 

obstacles, is applying the same principles as ne sees them. Several factors enter 
into the situation, requiring, if not modification of the principles, at least dif- 
ferent methods of carrying them out. The rate at which one is capable of mov- 
ing, the characteristics of the terrain over which one must travel, and the 
purpose of the journey are some of these modifying factors. 

A mountain goat, marvelously sure-footed, nonchalantly travels along the 
narrow edge of precipitous cliffs which a man must avoid. A cow, fat and 
lazy, meanders zigzag across a field which another animal would traverse in 
half the time. A sailboat tacks first north, then south, to reach a destination 
toward which a steamship can aim directly. Different types of vehicles require 
different types of routes, in order to achieve the same ends. What is comfort- 
able in a slow vehicle may well be uncomfortable at a fast pace; similarly, a 
speed which is perfectly safe in one vehicle might be disastrous in another. 

It follows from this that each type of vehicle should have its own spe- 
cifically designed path. The cow has its gently winding path, the wagon its 
wider, straighter road, the train its railroad track, the ship its sea lane, the 
barge its canal, the airplane its beacon lanes. Sometimes it happens that a route 
which was originally intended for one purpose can be adapted to another, but 
generally the changes which are made in the route to facilitate this adaptation 
end by altering it beyond recognition. It is hard to realize, for example, that 
many of America's most important automobile roads originated as animal 

When the first white settlers moved in to open up the Middle West, they 
did not have to build for themselves the roads which carried them out there. 
They used routes already there: Indian paths and buffalo trails. The American 
bison, heavy yet fleet of foot, tough and hard-traveling, had torn wide paths 
east and west, north and south, along the high ground linking the best grazing 
ranges and water holes. The bison migrated freely, his range extending from 


the salt licks of Kentucky westward to the Rockies, 
and from the Cariboo Mountains at the northern end 
of Alberta, Canada, southward into Texas. The Vin- 
cennes Road, which runs slantwise through Chicago 
today, was originally tramped out by herds of bison 
bound west from Illinois to the prairies. The three 
great overland routes from the eastern part of the 
country to the Central West were also stamped out 
originally by bison: one, the route through Central 
New York which was later followed by the Erie Canal; 
two, the route through Southwestern Pennsylvania 
from the Potomac to Upper Ohio ; and three, the great 
Cumberland Gap route into Kentucky. All over the 
world, in fact, man has taken over the routes of animals. 
The buffalo and Indian trails in America were use- 
ful and comfortable because both animal herd and 
native tribe usually sought out easy grades and direct 
courses. They laid their roads along high land, since 

forests there Were thinner and winds tended to Sweep 

Copyright, Haynes, Inc. 

the high trails clear of leaves in fall and of snow in TRANSCONTINENTAL ROAD ENGINEERS 

winter. All primitive races travel close to the ridges, 

relying on the safety of the higher ground. This custom, in fact, is the origin 

of the term highway. 

The buffalo is not the only animal whose roads have been followed through 
the centuries. While the cow is not generally thought of as a traffic expert, in 
her own way she too has been an outstanding highway engineer. From day to 
day the path that the cow follows from barn to pasture changes little. Once a 
path has been broken, the cow follows it year in and year out just because it is 


Underwood & Underwood 

there. Man of course does the same thing, through 
force of habit and reliance on precedent. The origin of 
many roads from farm to farm and from farm to vil- 
lage occurred in somewhat the following way. The 
cow path was never the shortest distance between two 
points, but it had the virtue of being a track and a 
well-worn one. So the farmer himself followed it down 
to his neighbor's house, and it soon developed into a 
footpath. Then, by clipping shrubbery and branches 
along its sides, he was able to ride his horse through it. 
One day he managed it with a horse and cart; from 
that it became a wagon road. It served him well. The 
road gradually extended from door to door toward the 
town's church, and in a generation it became Main 
Street. So it is that the cow laid out New York's Wall 
Street district years ago, and, farther north, Boston's 
Haymarket Square. As paths grew into wagon roads, 
this did not mean that they were rebuilt to take care 
of wheeled traffic. It simply meant that a certain 
number of wagoners had managed somehow to scrape 
their way through them. 

Three centuries were given in America to this kind 
of gradual road development. Animal trails slowly be- 
came pack-horse routes. By 1750 three roads in Penn- 
sylvania and New York were reported to be worn so 
broad that two pack-horses could meet and pass with- 
out danger to their loads. That was progress! Then the 
great wagon known as Conestoga made its appearance. 




And when it started bumping over the Alleghenies, the pack-horse trail re- 
ceived a diploma and became a road. 

Again, that did not mean that the old route was changed. It had merely 
been cleared; tree-stumps and rocks still clogged it. To begin with, people 
then did not know how to construct a road for wheeled traffic. Nor did they 
have the capital or the organization to do the job. The stagecoach had been 
in use for fifty years before any real improvement in American roads was made. 


Instead of building new roads, the old ones were patched and widened here 
and there in their worst spots, and a few of them were surfaced. But whatever 
minor changes were effected, the basic technique of laying out the road re- 
mained the same: rutty tracks were informally widened by hacking away 
enough underbrush to give a right of way. This method had inherent difficul- 
ties, of course. When larger and heavier vehicles were introduced and sent 
over routes designed for foot-traveler or animal, the original advantages of 
the routes were lost. The history of the Boston Post Road illustrates this. This 
road, which was a major military channel during the Revolutionary War, to- 


Portland Cement Assn. 

day is still the main artery between Boston and New York. Throughout the 
decades first for horses, then for wagons, then for stagecoaches, then for fast 
carriages, and finally for automobiles and buses it has been widened and 
rewidened and paved and repaved. But its development has always lagged 
behind the development of the vehicle, so that it has never been able to serve 
its purpose efficiently. When Sarah Kemble Knight rode from Boston to New 
York on it in 1704, it was so narrow that branches brushed her from both 
sides, and it was so difficult to traverse that it took her eight days to make the 
trip. Today, when 20,000 cars a day pass over it, they pile up in jams at its 
narrow bridgeheads, its frequent intersections and its sharp turns. 

Early in the nineteenth century, people decided to do something decisive 
about getting better roads. A speculative fever of private road building 
hit the nation. In the State of New York alone sixty-seven companies sprang 
up, to build toll roads or turnpikes. A paved turnpike was laid down from 

Ewlng Galloway 


Philadelphia to Lancaster, at a cost of half a million dollars. The Federal 
Government stepped in and put up money for the Cumberland Road, a 
national turnpike that tied the Potomac to the heart of the West. Public 
enthusiasm ran high. Traffic increased. 

The Cumberland Turnpike was the culmination of the movement. And it 
had a curious result. In the push to the West, New York State had been left 
behind. Accordingly, in order to get a foothold for trade, it set about building 
the Erie Canal. The Canal was a vast success. It beat the turnpikes at their own 
game. So the fever for building roads subsided almost as quickly as it had risen, 
and digging canals became the new national rage. The canal was popular be- 
cause it was efficient. And it was efficient because it was a right of way built 
specifically for one means of transit, rather than a makeshift, second-hand 

The next big step in American transportation came with the introduction 


Portland Cement Assn. 

. ^^ 


of an entirely new vehicle: the locomotive. This proved to be efficient and 
popular also, and for the same reason: its builders estimated the needs and 
capacities of the new vehicle and designed a right of way for it accordingly. 
The first right of way for an American train was laid out on a dirt road 
because the train was horse-pulled. But very soon the railroad acquired a 
special track adapted to its own functions and its own speed. And the ultimate 
result of this intelligent approach to the problem is the safe, efficient and unin- 
terrupted railroad travel of the present day. Not that this result was achieved 
immediately; haste in construction often made for waste and mismanagement. 
It took about fifty years for the railroads to overcome the first missteps of 
inefficiency and planlessness. But the fact remains that their basic technical 
approach was sound. The history of American railroads contains many valu- 
able lessons for highway engineers. 

Then, just before 1900, another new vehicle appeared. Along the Pumpkin- 
ville Pike in Indiana and similar horse roads in Massachusetts, Elwood Haynes 
and Charles Duryea were experimenting with the first ' 'horseless carriages." 
These "gasoline buggies" did not look very promising at first, and were not 
taken very seriously. To say that the country did not recognize the auto for 
what it was is to understate the case. The country recognized the auto as a 
rattling piece of machinery that could be counted on to break down every 






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' -- *'' ft?- 


%* 4 *J 






Southern Pacific Railroad (Sturtevant-Stover) 


three or four miles. Nobody was going to build a new route for that. A special 
track had been built for the locomotive, but what had been good enough for 
the automobile's grandfather was considered good enough for it. 

No one seemed to realize that a vehicle was developing which would revolu- 
tionize not only all transportation, but life in general. First of all, mechanical 
transportation was now for the first time being placed at the disposal of the 
individual to be used whenever he desired, whereas before that time all me- 
chanical transportation had been designed for masses of people only. Secondly, 
the individual driver was now going to be able to travel two or three times as 
fast as he had ever traveled before. 



All that three centuries of Americans had done in laying out, widening and 
brushing up roads suddenly became obsolete. Before this time, travelers had 
moved so slowly that it never really mattered whether their road was straight 
or not. No man or animal had ever struck directly across a range of mountains 
or a river when he could manage to travel around it. In the horse-and-buggy 
era, no great effort was ever made by road builders to alter or modify the 
natural character of terrain to reduce the distance between two points, or to 
smooth out large bumps and recesses. But this new vehicle was capable of high 
speed. In fact, its entire validity rested on its claim of speed. Curves and 
bumps that had never bothered the buggy forced the car to slow down. 
Roundabout routes whose delays had never mattered now harmed the straight- 
away effectiveness of the car. But this was not understood. The new car was 
pushed out on the old roads. 

Take, as an illustration, the history of one of the world's most heavily 
traveled stretches of road, the sixteen-mile Detroit-Pontiac Highway. It was 
in 1 8 1 7 that its right of way was first laid down, consisting of great logs rolled 
close together and filled in with clay and sand. By mid-century it had become 
a plank toll road for horses and buggies. In 1 9 1 6 it was rebuilt for the auto- 
mobile that is to say, it was paved. But its width remained the same as it had 
been in 1817 a mere sixteen feet. Five years later an observer reported 
"forty-three automobiles stalled on Sunday afternoon on a stretch of the road 
badly shouldered by dirt and stones and with a menacing ditch at the side." 
By 1923 traffic on it had bogged down almost entirely. Then the Governor of 
Michigan started a piecemeal program of widening it to 200 feet. By 1938, 
50,000 people used it every day with what at long last became a high rate of 
safety its accident-death rate being less than one-third that of the nation as 
a whole. Ever since 1817, the State of Michigan had meant well. When it was 
time for teams and buggies, it built a road for teams and buggies. When it was 


time for a railroad, it built a railroad bed. But when it was time for motor 
cars, it patched the road it had already built for another vehicle. It passed laws, 
hired policemen and set up traffic lights, but it didn't build a proper road for 
the automobile. What happened here, as well as all over the country under 
similar circumstances, was that the precept of "economy" overshadowed those 
of safety, comfort and speed. Three principles were sacrificed for one. But 
people found that that didn't work. 

Almost at the very start of the automobile era, however, there was one inter- 
esting exception to this type of highway treatment. In 1906, William K. Van- 
derbilt II and some cronies who wanted to motor to their Long Island homes at 
forty miles an hour without scaring horses and infuriating the public, ac- 
quired a fifty-mile strip of land 100 feet wide down the island from Flushing 
to Lake Ronkonkoma. On it they built a two-lane wriggling ribbon of con- 
crete and macadam, on which no carriages were allowed. Because they did not 
wish to slow down every few hundred yards for a crossroad, they bridged 
every intersection which was a brand-new idea. A speed-limitless play- 
ground for millionaires was only part of this conception. The important thing 
about this road was its recognition of the fact that the automobile, in order to 
function at its best, needs a right of way as free from obstacles as a railroad 

The career of this Long Island Motor Parkway is interesting. Built at a cost 
of about $7,000,000 ($140,000 per mile) , its original toll charge of one dol- 
lar per trip in each direction could not keep it from being a financial failure. 
Non-millionaire drivers, although enjoying the route as being safe and com- 
fortable and speedy, were aware that instead of being economical it doubled 
their driving costs over those forty miles. In 1937 the road had to be aban- 
doned. In this way, the lesson that a road must follow all four principles of 
safety, comfort, speed and economy indivisibly was again pointed out. And at 


the same time it taught another lesson: that unless an idea is 
thought through in all particulars, it soon grows obsolete. Private 
enterprise had spent a lot of money on this road, and proved the 
point that other existing roads were not properly designed for 
the motor car. When it was first built, the Long Island Motor 
Parkway was the country's most advanced road. But neverthe- 
less, even its designers did not fully appreciate the possibilities of 
the automobile. Curves on the Parkway were too sharp, there 
were too many of them, the road was too rolling, and it was 
too narrow. 

The gentlemen who built the Parkway might have had more 
success if they had listened to the wise advice of W. W. Crosby, 
who urged in 1903 that, before building a road, a traffic census 
should be taken to determine in advance how much traffic the 
road would be required to carry. Again in 1914, Engineer S. 
Whinery urged that roads should be considered in the light of 
traffic conditions twenty years in the future. This advice also 
went unheard. The nation's roads still weren't designed for the future at all. 
They were improved piecemeal to answer immediate needs. 

This failure to heed advice led the country to the highway crisis of 1924, 
when the number of cars on the road reached over seventeen and a half million 
and motorists came earnestly face to face with the traffic menace. Progressive 
young engineers wanted to relieve congestion by replanning the whole road 
system, but public and officials decided differently. They widened the old 
roads. They set low speed limits on them. They put up thousands of traffic 
lights. The old ideals of safety, speed, comfort and economy were now being 
interpreted to read "go slow." It was a far cry from the day when Mr. Vander- 
bilt had interpreted them to mean "go fast." 






While the science of road design was thus being held back, the technique of 
policing and traffic lights was going forward. In the early nineteen hundreds 
the major duties required of traffic officers were stopping runaway horses and 
directing parades. As the automobile began to crowd existing roads and no 
relief in the sense of newly designed highways was in sight, the policeman 
grew into a major highway figure. He was stationed in the thick of traffic, and 
began to require assistants to unsnarl the tangled cars. He resorted to signals, 
whistles, hand and semaphore devices. In 1924 a series of inventions began 
dotting the country with various systems of mechanical traffic regulation. 
Although this represented a contribution to safety, it violated the aims of 
comfort, economy and speed because it was hit-or-miss, restrictive rather than 
corrective. What was really needed was a properly designed highway system 
that would make a maze of traffic lights unnecessary. 

Today, with a tremendously multiplied volume of traffic, there is an even 
greater need for such a highway system. The millions of square miles that 
make up this country's land, all of its industries, its social development, are all 
completely dependent on the flow of its traffic the life-blood of the nation. 
The medium through which this national life-blood is pumped should be an 
efficient circulatory system of arteries and veins, instead of three million miles 
of haphazardly improved routes laid out for the different needs of gold-seekers 


Ewing Galloway 

in California, of missionaries in the South- 
west, fur traders and explorers in the North- 
west, covered- wagon pioneers in the Great 
Plains, buffaloes in the Middle West and 
Indians in New England. Our highway "sys- 
tem" affects the life of each hamlet, city and 
farm in the United States, and yet it is still 
regarded as a local matter, to be tinkered 
with from time to time by state, county and 
municipality, as if the blood-stream came to 
a stop at the boundary line. 

It took years to get the automobile out of 
the horseless-carriage stage. The inevitable 
conclusion is that highways will have to go 

through the same upheaval sooner or later. And it can be done more safely, 
comfortably and economically if it is done soon. But what has been done so 
far on the highway, instead of the required upheaval, is a slow process of 
adaptation which doesn't work. Mr. R. E. Toms, Chief of the Division of 
Design of the Federal Bureau of Public Roads, once said that twenty years 
from now motoring will still not be "radically different" from what it is 
today, that "the familiar two-lane highway is here to stay," and that "you 
won't see any sweeping changes in highway design for years to come." He says 
this in spite of the fact that another official in the same Bureau, Mr. H. S. Fair- 
bank, recently admitted that "no single section of our nationwide system of 
interstate highways was built for the express use of the automobile." Mr. 
Fair bank made this statement in 1938, when there were 30,000,000 cars on 
the road, and when experts were estimating that the next twenty years would 
double that number. He said this ten years after the installation of the first 


James M. Doolittle 




cloverleaf intersection in the country, after the completion of many "super- 
highways," "freeways," "skyways" and the like, with all their improvements, 
and still he was able honestly to say that our highways not only are lagging, 
but are obsolete. 

Automobile travel is less efficient in this respect than any other form of 
travel. Automobile roads are the only transportation routes which are not 
systematically planned in accordance with the needs of the vehicles which use 
them. At sea, for instance, sea lanes are planned for ships. There is nothing 
haphazard about sea traffic. Guesswork has been reduced to a minimum. The 
"Great Circle Track," the shortest steaming route between Nantucket Light 
and Bishop's Rock, England, has been carefully divided into traffic lanes. Ships 
inform each other by radio of bearing and speed. The channels and aids to 
navigation have been designed not for the vessels of another day, but for the 
ships that use them now. In air traffic, too, there is similar planning. Control 
towers at airports eliminate confusion and congestion. Traffic going in op- 
posite directions is kept apart by regulations allocating it to separate altitudes. 
The result of this planning is that after a ship has cleared its harbor, or after a 
plane has climbed to its ceiling, each can proceed to its destination along the 
best and shortest possible route, without fear of interruption. It can go prac- 
tically in a straight line. Neither ship nor plane has to use a right of way 
inherited from some ambling predecessor. 

The problems of the railroad are more closely analogous to the problems of 
the automobile than are those of ship or plane, because both car and train have 
to travel over land and therefore are subject to inevitable interferences and 
barriers. But, unlike the highway, the railroad does not give in to this difficulty 
meekly. In places where financial economy might seem to 
call for a roundabout route, elaborate engineering is never- 
theless usually decided upon to cut through the barrier and 



give a direct route, producing greater economy in the long run. The 
result is that railroad tracks are a great deal straighter than highways, 
and that the train, although inherently a clumsy vehicle, is able to 
travel with far greater comfort, safety, economy and speed than the car. 

The present-day automobile functions in competition with high- 
speed airplanes and locomotives. If there is to be any justification for 
its existence, it must match them in efficiency. To do this, it is not 
enough to build an efficient automobile the route is as important to 
the vehicle as thread is to a needle. An automobile may be capable of 
high speed, but when its road prevents it from using that speed in 
safety and comfort because of steep grades, sharp curves, dangerous 
intersections and aimless winding it is powerless. Therefore, before 
re-routing, re-designing or improving an old highway, or before laying 
out a new one, the route should always be examined not from the view- 
point of tradition or habit, but with a conscious regard for today's 
automobile traffic. In the days of the horse and buggy, economy was 
never thought of in terms of time saved or fuel saved. But today that 
economy is vital, and the elimination of every unnecessary mile or 
hazard counts. 

A properly designed highway follows the most direct route that is 
available from one point to another; it obeys the old geometric axiom 
that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. That is 
a simple, perhaps obvious, statement, and yet if it were really carried 
out in practice it would completely transform our highway system. It 
is the first guiding principle that should be considered before any high- 



way is constructed, before the first plans for it are made. 

Chinese road builders purposely place many turns and twists in their roads, 
because they believe that evil spirits fly along them and that if the roads are 
crooked enough the evil ones may miss one of the turns, fly off and get lost. 
Do American road builders also believe in evil spirits? Judging from their 
handiwork, the answer is yes. Actually, however, the explanation is of course 
not so simple. The three main obstacles which stand in the way of proper high- 
way design today are: first, the difficulties of acquiring a right of way; second, 
the pressures and pulls that influence the planning of the route; and third, the 
terrain over which the route must pass. These three factors have acted as 
stumbling blocks to all road building organizations, whether Federal, state or 
municipal. But must they be stumbling blocks for all time to come? 

Fortunately, against the piecemeal school of highway construction which 
generally prevails, there are those students of traffic engineering who can be 
referred to as "forward-looking men." There have been many who sensed 
that all was not well with the method of American highway development. 
Perhaps the credit for the first piece of functional traffic engineering in Amer- 
ica should go to Colonel Stephen H. Long, an army engineer, loaned to the 
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This man designed and built a new type of truss 
bridge which carried the Baltimore-to-Washington roads over the railway 
tracks. Colonel Long named the overpass in honor of Andrew Jackson, then 
President of the United States. The date was 1830. It was the first attack on 
the grade crossing. 

There were other men who also realized what had to be done. Jay Downer, 
as Engineer and Executive Secretary of the Bronx Parkway Commission, de- 
veloped a forty-foot, four-lane highway, eliminated grade crossings, and 
protected the route from side encroachments. Dr. John A. Harriss did pioneer 
work on coordinated traffic light systems. Carl Fisher planned the Lincoln 


Highway. Fritz Malcher advanced the "steadyflow" system of traffic. Robert 
Moses, New York's Commissioner of Parks, has built miles of parkways and 
the city's Elevated Express Highway. 

Various states, too, have seen the alarm signals. New Jersey built the first 
cloverleaf intersection. Michigan has built highways on the "freeway" prin- 
ciple. Pennsylvania is building a toll highway which will pierce the Alle- 
ghenies with nine tunnels, reach heights of 2,500 feet at grades never more 
than 3 per cent, and maintain a constant highspeed flow with no maximum 
speed limit, by means of lane segregation, cloverleaf s and long sight-distances. 

In short, there are a few good roads in America. But not one of them is a 
patched-up hand-me-down. If we want safety, comfort, speed and economy 
in travel we must build it into our roads. We must build roads that are liter- 
ally, not figuratively, motor roads. 

There is one famous right of way in America which has recently been built 
with these ends in view. Its builders had the advantage of starting from 
scratch, without the heritage of stagecoaches and horses and buggies to estab- 
lish precedent, and the success of their venture has proved the desirability of 
starting from scratch. We 


are speaking of the Hud- N. Y. c. Park De P t. 
son River's Holland Tun- 

Actually, there are two 
tunnels, one in each di- 
rection. Thus traffic mov- 
ing in opposite directions 
is completely segregated, 
visually and physically. 
There is no cross traffic. 

Even cars driving in the same direction are required to keep in separate lanes, 
so that there is no weaving in and out and no sideswiping. Cars are not al- 
lowed to stop. All cars must drive at a constant, uniform speed. Each car must 
keep a standard safe distance behind the car in front of it. The tunnels are 
always patrolled not by roaming traffic cops, but by officers so posted that 
they can see any mishap or failure and report it at once. A wrecking crew is 
always on call to remove immediately any disabled vehicle. There is no danger 
of any car striking a pedestrian, for pedestrians move on separated elevated 
walkways. The margin of guesswork has been reduced by thorough scientific 
planning. What such planning means comes home to us when we learn that in 
this one-and-three-quarter-mile tunnel a fatal accident has occurred only 
once in 47,000,000 motor vehicle miles. If these conditions could be applied 
to America's entire highway system, our annual automobile death toll, instead 
of 32,000 lives, would be less than 6,000. 

The case of the four gospels of safety, comfort, speed and economy seems 
to be one of "many are called, yet few are chosen." No one has dared deny 
these transportation ideals. Many have heeded their soundness. But relatively 
few have carried them out. Since these words get more lip service on our 
highways than actual observance, one cannot do better than repeat and rede- 
fine them, hoping to drive them home. 


Port of New York Authority 

Port of New York Authority 


By safety is meant the safe guiding of the individual along the highway, 
not necessarily the features which make that safety. By comfort is meant a 
high degree of ease though not the ease which is represented by travel in a 
well-upholstered seat behind a soft-purring, high-powered engine through a 
jungle of roadhogs, football crowds, bumps, detours and glaring headlights. 
Comfort must be built into the highway as well as into the automobile. 
Speed is of course the time it takes to travel, and is achieved not only by 
building fast-moving automobiles but by laying out highways along the short- 
est possible distance between two points. Economy must be achieved not only 
in the financial sense, but in a broader scientific sense: the economy of time 
and energy as well as of money. And finally, each of these four principles, in 
order to function fully, has to be combined with the other three. A highway 
which follows one of these goals at the sacrifice of the other three cannot be 
an efficient motorway. It may be called a highway for that term, after all, 



Emanutl M. 

means nothing more than that the road is laid along high ground. But it is 
not a motorway for that word means a right of way explicitly designed for 
and adapted to the uses of motor traffic. 

The aim of highway engineers in the twentieth century should be to con- 
struct motorways instead of highways. It is an important task, and an inspir- 
ing one. It means pioneering, traveling over uncharted territory instead of 
following in the well-worn paths which tradition has laid down. But just as 
the horse and buggy have been replaced by the motor car, so must the high- 
way be replaced by the motorway. 




Brown Bros. 


'HEN a family took a pleasure spin in the car thirty years ago, elabo- 
rate preparations were required. Tow ropes, tire-patching outfits, reserve cans 
of water, oil and gas were provided against the emergency which was likely to 
happen. A basket luncheon was made ready, to bolster morale when the car 
broke down in some remote place perhaps fifteen miles from home. Each mem- 
ber of the family was protected from dust. Women didn't drive cars in those 
days; but they bundled themselves in mummy-like veils for protection. The 
head of the family cut an even more formidable figure when he appeared in 
front of the car. Like his wife, he wore a long linen duster, to which he added 
a cap that would not blow off, goggles of the largest size and special automo- 
bile driving gauntlets. Ready to start, the driver approached the car, bent 
over, put his shoulder firmly against the radiator, mustered up all his strength 
and spun the crank. Nothing happened. He tried again. If the car backfired, 
the crank might knock him flat, might break his arm. Any way you looked at 
it, it was a hazardous matter. 

Today, without giving it a thought, the driver steps on the self-starter or 



presses the starting button on his instrument panel, and the 
chore is performed for him. The least possible human effort is 
involved. No year has passed without the introduction of devices 
to promote safer and more efficient driving. Automatic wipers 
sweep across windshields made of non-shatterable glass. High- 
power electric headlights have replaced the gas and kerosene 
light of earlier days. Automatic tail lights flash warning when 
the brakes are applied. Four-wheel brakes stop the car. Steel top 
and body minimize the damage in case of crash. The irreversible 
steering wheel and shock absorbers help to make driving steady 
and easy. Tires are now made puncture proof and skid proof. 
The car which stands in an automobile showroom today is emi- 
nently safe and easily adapted to human needs. The purchaser of 
this car considers it very good indeed, and his confidence that 
each year's car will be better than last year's model is justified by 

But how about the driver? Has he too improved in these thirty 
years of motor-car experience as the car has improved? Not by 
any means. He is still, day in, day out, on three million miles of 
road, the same, as bad a driver as the fellow who drove a 
Chalmers in 1910. His eyesight is no better, he reacts no faster, 
he doesn't think any better, he gets drunk just as easily, he is just 
as absent-minded. 

Hard-surfaced roads and closed cars have enabled him to lay 
aside his ponderous dust-protective costume. Today he may 
never take the wrenches out of his tool kit from one year's end 
to another. The car that he drives can go three times as fast as the 
one he had before. Traffic volume has multiplied a hundredfold. 

Above: 1905 
Below: 1940 

A vast variety of constantly new road situations flash upon him, each of which 
he must be ready to solve. To keep pace with the machine he manages, he 
should be able each year to see more clearly, think more quickly and act faster 
than ever before. His car has been entirely remodeled. His highway is being 
remodeled. How can the driver be remodeled? 

Thirty years ago the worst problem a driver ever encountered was the maxi- 
mum speed of a runaway horse and there was practically no congestion 
problem. Yet even then he had troubles in handling his vehicle. Today the 
situation is far worse, because he is still the same human being, and yet he has 
to handle both increased traffic congestion and increased speeds. 

No two drivers can be counted upon to behave alike. At the outset that 
illustrates the seriousness of the problem. Nothing magnifies the difference 
between individual reactions more than motoring. Even the same man faced 
with the identical situation at different times will react differently, due to 
countless factors within himself. Nervousness, irritability and quirks of char- 
acter so slight that they ordinarily pass unnoticed become positive dangers at 
motor speeds. Absent-mindedness, which may have no more serious conse- 
quences at the breakfast table than for a man to look up and ask his wife 
"What did you say, dear?" may make him forget to give proper hand signals 
as he drives to work, with cars crowding close behind. A trivial quarrel linger- 
ing in his mind may dominate his thoughts at the moment a child runs out in 
the street ahead of him in pursuit of a rolling glass marble. 

Long after childhood has passed, men still act on impulse. Sheer exuberance 
one pleasant morning may make a driver try to round a curve at a speed 
which hurls him off the road for good. Or, in pursuit of his own glass marble 
some bit of business or golf he will hurry along, bluffing for the right of 
way until he comes up against another of his own kind. Like the child running 
out in the path of a moving car, no driver expects trouble. It comes as a com- 


plete surprise, in a moment of impatience or inattention or unpreparedness. 
Or perhaps it comes when the driver, superhumanly alert and well within his 
rights, is struck by another driver who is superhumanly careless. It makes lit- 
tle difference except to a coroner's jury, whether one driver, or both, or 
neither was at fault. As the old epitaph puts it, 


Underwood & Underwood 

"Here lies the body of William Jay 
Who died maintaining his right of way. 
Will was dead right as he sped along 
But he's just as dead as though he'd been wrong." 

Human nature itself, unaided, does not make for efficient driving. Human 
beings, even when at the wheel, are prone to talk, wave to their friends, make 
love, day-dream, listen to the radio, stare at striking billboards, light cigarettes, 
take chances. They would not be very human if they abandoned these prac- 
tices even while driving, but in the brief instant it takes to light a cigarette, 
many drivers' thoughts have been rudely deflated from the road into eternity. 

Even when the driver is in full command of the situation, concentrating his 


whole attention on the highway and the problems of driving, he cannot act 
instantaneously. Confronted with an emergency, he jams on the brakes. 
Traveling at twenty miles an hour along a clear, dry road, his car requires 
forty-four feet to come to a stop. Its actual braking distance on that road and 
at that speed is twenty-two feet. What accounts for the other, possibly fatal 

General Motors 


twenty- two? The driver is not sluggish, but he is average and human, and has 
a normal reaction time of three-quarters of a second. And in that fraction of 
a second a car going twenty miles an hour travels twenty- two feet. This frac- 
tion of a second represents the time actually consumed between the instant 


Portland Cement Assn. 


his eyes see the danger and the moment he applies his foot to the brakes. Three- 
quarters of a second is an average value for this period of delay. For many 
drivers it is a longer interval, and for a few drivers a shorter one. 

Increase the driver's speed to fifty miles an hour, a more usual rate on the 
open road. His reaction time does not change, but during this three-quarters- 


of-a-second interval a car traveling at that speed will have covered fifty-five 
feet, and will require a distance of almost two hundred feet to come to a stop. 
As the speed of the car is increased, the distance required to stop the car in- 
creases correspondingly, due to the increased distance which the car will travel 
during the three-quarters-of-a-second reaction-time interval, plus the in- 
creased distance required for the brakes to bring the faster-moving car to a 
stop after they have been applied. 

Besides the general human characteristics which are common to all automo- 
bile operators, there are also individual failings which are not conducive to 
safe driving. A driver may have defective eyesight. One or two of every five 
motorists share this handicap. Worse, and very probably, he doesn't know 
that he has it. His limitation may take the form of being unable to see objects 
"out of the corner" of his eye. His field of vision may be so restricted that he 
sees things as though viewing them through a tunnel. 

Or he may just have been drinking. No two authorities quite agree on the 
point at which a person who has been drinking becomes a danger, but one esti- 
mate, based on state surveys for 1937, declared that 8 per cent of all drivers and 
1 3 per cent of all pedestrians involved in fatal accidents had been drinking. 
Whether these were unable to walk a straight line or speak the English language 
properly, or whether they merely had alcohol on their breath, is not clear. Tests 
made in a Milwaukee hospital show that, under the influence of alcohol, drivers' 
reaction time and consequent braking distance were increased by 3 per cent, 
that their eye and muscular coordination was 40 per cent poorer than normal, 
and that they made 60 per cent more errors than drivers completely sober. 

The driver may have no physical ailments, but he may be a mental specimen 
of the type that regards the road as a sort of athletic field on which he can 
show off. Left unsatisfied by his humdrum daily existence, he may use high- 
way conquests and victories over opposing cars as a means to blow up his ego. 


He may be merely bull- 
headed, or on the other 
hand timid, or he may be 
and very few drivers' 
license tests manage to 
discover this definitely 
subnormal. In any case he 
is an unreliable factor to 
have in control of a car. 

Carelessness is another 

human failing common to SAFER THAN THE AVERAGE MOTORIST 

many drivers. Over-confidence or boredom often produces lack of attention 
in an experienced driver, due to the monotony of a long or familiar trip. He 
may be day-dreaming when an object suddenly looms up ahead causing him to 
obey a reflex and become tense. If he has his foot on the accelerator, this im- 
pulse follows a pattern contrary to the muscular coordination and reflex 
action which are required in such a situation. It may tend not toward self- 
preservation but toward self-destruction. Or, finally, a driver's health may be 
excellent and his judgment clear, when suddenly he is faced with a complex 
road emergency that transcends all his experience. He is holding a hurtling 
instrument in his hands. Quick action and lightning precision are demanded of 
him. Yet something inside him clamps down he freezes, helpless. It is panic. 

Today's driver is the same unpredictable fellow he was in the days of the 
Chalmers. The automobile may have dispensed with the whipstock which ap- 
peared on early models, but drivers have not rid themselves of impulses which 
have been part of them from time immemorial. True, training by continual 
automobile driving is perhaps quickening the reaction time of man as a species, 
but these reactions of his cannot be depended upon. Man is not a machine 

and he cannot be geared to function automatically as part of any machine. 

Cities and states have tried to keep the driver up to date by means of legisla- 
tion. They have commanded him to overcome his known limitations and to 
drive with robot-like precision. When he sets off from Jacksonville along the 
350 miles to Miami, he is confronted with 6,760 signs on the way, telling him 
what to do and what not to do. They remind him of Prohibition. He becomes 
irritated at the heckling, moralizing free advice. He feels little guilt in evading 
them when he can. Each time he crosses a state line he becomes subject to a 
new, often unfamiliar and conflicting set of commandments. In this way, con- 
ditions are created when even an upright citizen becomes a law breaker. Signs 
drill into his eyes the one injunction: "Drive slowly." He is not fooled. He 
knows that this is a complete contradiction. Cars are built for safe, fast trans- 
portation. Although he may be unfamiliar with President Cleveland's graceful 
phrase about letting the law "pass into innocuous desuetude," he treats it with 
the same respect as another law still on the statute books: "It is not permitted 
in New York City to open an umbrella in the presence of a horse." 

Most traffic control seems merely to try to restrict man's inalienable right to 
be killed at street crossings, not to aid him constructively in the pursuit of 
motoring happiness. It regards the motorist as a rugged individualist on whom 
certain checks and balances must be imposed in the form of red lights and 
police whistles. The control measures have been designed only to meet certain 
given situations, leaving many accidents within the law. For instance, in spite 
of the safety command to "go slow," 90 per cent of all accidents occur at com- 
paratively low speeds. And in spite of all the rules on what to do and what not 
to do, nine out of ten accidents are caused, not by a mechanical failure, but by 
human failure. 

The inference seems clear: as long as there is opportunity to make a mistake, 
some driver will make it. As long as there are roads on which emergencies can 


arise, just so long will there be drivers who fail to meet them. The present-day 
trend as to how to remove the risk due to the human factor is to restrict the 
driver. Everything is leaning toward greater restrictions as to who may drive a 
car, the speed at which a car may be driven, and other considerations of that 
nature. Authorities are trying to give more severe examinations to the driver, 
to make sure that only "good men" will be selected. But more severe drivers' 
examinations cannot produce much greater road safety. Examinations never 
reveal anything. Even if only the best 10 per cent of drivers were allowed 
to drive there would still be accidents, because this 10 per cent would at 
some time or other be less able to drive than it was at the time when 
it was tested. Tests can only reveal how an individual acts and thinks at 
a given moment under special circumstances not how he acts and thinks day 
in and day out under a variety of different situations. In short, more severe 
examinations will not solve the problem. Legislating against the driver will not 
improve his inherent characteristics. Restricting speed is not going to solve the 
problem. Variable factors in the human being cannot be regulated. 

It is ridiculous, for example, to pass a law saying that when one driver meets 
another car he must dim his lights, when this action can be achieved by me- 
chanical means independent of the driver. The use of automatically controlled 
light which keeps the oncoming glare from the driver's eyes is one way of 
achieving the desired effect and there are no buttons which someone must 
remember to push. A mechanical solution is bound to be more satisfactory 
than a psychological or legal solution because it regulates not only those 
drivers who are cooperative, intelligent and law-abiding, but all drivers. 

Other forms of transportation have done a great deal in eliminating the 
human factor. Railroads have developed the automatic block system in which 
the railway track is divided into "blocks" or sections. The rails are wired so 
that as the wheels of one train pass over electrical contact points, the presence 


New York Central Railroad 

of a train within that block is automatically signaled to the next block. Should 
a second train enter the next block while the first train occupies the block 
ahead, the second train would receive a "caution" signal. If the second train 
passes through its block before the first train has passed out of that block, the 
second train may be automatically stopped. Upon the first train advancing to 
another block, a "clear" signal flashes for the second train, indicating that it is 
now safe to proceed. 

The locomotive engineer is not likely to make a mistake as a result of wrong 
judgment. Neither is there danger of accident due to sudden absent-minded- 
ness or physical failure. A device known as the "dead man's stick" automati- 
cally brings a train to a safe halt if the engineer's hand falls from the controls. 
An efficient system of automatic signals keeps him thoroughly acquainted 
with the situation ahead of him, informs him of emergencies which are not 
visible to the human eye. 

Present-day lack of automobile safety control cannot be excused on the 


grounds that the automotive industry is younger than the railroad, because 
the youngest of all transport facilities, the air line, also uses a number of 
mechanical safety devices. Airplanes utilize the radio beam and plane-to-plane 
and plane- to-field radio telephone. These controlling devices have one thing in 
common, the conjunctive operation of the right of way and vehicle. Yet even 
with these automatic devices, train engineers and air pilots are still carefully 
selected and trained for their jobs. 

Travel by automobile is more than twenty-five times as great as by train, 
and more than seven hundred and fifty times as great as by air. Yet it is 
only the trains and airplanes that carry mechanical controls to provide auto- 
matic aid for their drivers. Radio beams, block systems and other devices 
could be applied to the automobile, not exactly, but in general principle. 

In the motor car itself much has been done in the last twenty years. The 
phenomenal -nature of these advances makes one think that the advances in 
the next twenty years will be even quicker and greater than anything that 
has been done so far. The engine may be moved from the present location to a 
place under the floor or in the rear, giving many improvements, including 
improved vision and the possibility of building a more resilient and safe 
bumper at the front of the car. It will have a higher speed and it will be used 
at that speed. No driver always drives at full speed, but he will use that speed 
as freely on the proper roads as he now uses twenty-five at best on a crowded 
highway. Tires will be made resistant to the effects of heat, oil and gasoline 
so that they can withstand the higher speeds of twenty years from now as 
they withstand the present-day driving speed. Cars will be smaller but 
roomier. Interiors will be more flexible as to use. They will be air conditioned. 
Cars will be more comfortable to ride in, more economical to run, and capable 
of higher speed. But none of these improvements will mean a thing if there is 
not a corresponding advance in safety. Given a 1960 automobile, with its 

Portland Cement Assn. 


tremendous technical advances and capabilities, the 1940 driver would prob- 
ably find it simply a more economical and quicker way to get himself into 
a smash-up. 

But with the changes in the car, will the driver too be changed? Will he 
have lost one bad trait which made him years ago a menace to his own safety 
and a nuisance to others? Don't count on it. But these cars of 1960 and the 
highways on which they drive will have in them devices which will correct 
the faults of human beings as drivers. They will prevent the driver from com- 
mitting errors. They will prevent his turning out into traffic except when he 
should. They will aid him in passing through intersections without slowing 
down or causing anyone else to do so and without endangering himself or 
others. Many present beginnings give hints of the kind of over- all planning 
on which the near future could realize. Everything will be designed by engineer- 
ing, not by legislation, not in piecemeal fashion, but as a complete job. The 
two, the car and the road, are both essential to the realization of automatic 
safety. It is a job that must be done by motor-car manufacturers and road 
builders cooperatively. Such devices when adopted will not be included in 
just this car or that. They would do no good just here and there. They will 
be obligatory for all cars. They will prevent a car from turning out of a lane 
except under favorable circumstances. They will prevent him from moving 


i Electric 



from one highway artery into another until his speed has been brought up or 
down to the rate of the new artery he is to enter. They will safeguard traffic 
lanes from right or left interference. They will make it possible for him to 
proceed at full speed through dense fog. They will aid him as he travels at 
night, as he crosses mountain ranges, as he traverses the breadth of the country 
and as he drives through city streets. 

In 1940 many people felt that those drivers who blundered ought to be 
driven off the highway. But since almost everyone at some time blundered 
indeed, couldn't help blundering, given such a set-up of unworkable laws and 
obsolete roads that demand was much too difficult ever to be carried out. 
It usually worked out in the sense that the blunderers drove themselves off the 
highways into the ditch. But in 1960 they all stay out of the ditch. It is not 
done by law, but through the very nature of the car and the highway. They 
still blunder, of course, but when they do, they are harmless. 



AVE you ever conceived of a road which would allow no car to approach 
your own which would hold you to your course without the danger of be- 
ing struck or of striking any object where you could decide in advance how 
fast you would like to drive, and by maintaining that constant, effortless pace, 
arrive at your destination on scheduled time? It sounds impossible? But you can 
have such a road. The means of bringing it about are available. The idea is 
thoroughly practical. It can be built to work in conjunction with an auto- 
matic control installed in your car. The highway you use can be made as safe 
and pleasant at all times as it would be if your car were the only automobile 
upon it. 

Today, in the course of an average mile drive through traffic, your automo- 
bile is exposed to several hundred cars, moving in every direction and at every 
variation in speed from ten to seventy miles an hour. In this disorderly traffic 
flow, there can be no certainty that one car of all those hundreds will not 
meet you head-on, crash in behind you or suddenly lash against the side of 
your car. It is not only the accident, but the fear of accident, which retards 



Henry Flam 

r ^r 


Margaret Bourke-White 


the effective use of the motor car. Wherever there is danger, traffic is forced 
to go slowly, which causes delay, congestion, exasperated drivers, more acci- 
dents. The highway attributes that produce accidents are four in number. 
They are known to everyone. 

First: The crossroad. Here two crossing streams of traffic using the same 
pavement cause the greatest congestion on the highway today. This problem 
will be discussed in the next chapter. 

Second: The road edge. Stationary hazards at the roadside, such as soft 
shoulders, culverts, fences, hydrants, telephone poles, parked cars, as well as 
moving objects, such as jay-walkers or stray dogs wandering onto the high- 
way, cause motorists to crowd inward away from them and thus slow down 

Third: Cars moving in opposite directions. This with its head-on collisions 
results in more fatal accidents than any other type. 

Fourth: Cars moving in the same direction but at different speeds. This 
is an important cause of retardation of traffic flow and is the greatest cause of 
automobile accidents. It results in rear-end collisions and the sideswiping of 
two cars in adjacent lanes. 


Port.and Cement Assn. REE SPEEDS AHEAD 

Portland Cement Assn. 

Ewing Galloway 

Dr. Miller McClintock, Director of the Yale University Bureau for 
Street Traffic Research, who devised the audit count which has become the 
basis of many American city traffic patterns, has aptly expressed these four 
factors which retard the smooth flow of traffic in the following terms: 
At crossroads: intersectional friction. 
At the road edge: marginal friction. 

Between cars moving in opposite directions: medial friction. 
Between cars moving in the same direction: internal-stream friction. 
When cars could travel at only ten miles an hour, it was not a serious incon- 
venience if they held each other up. But when they can travel at present-day 
speeds, it is serious, unfair, uneconomical and dangerous. It is only now 
when speed is here to stay that it has become necessary to correct the various 
kinds of interference. 

Prior to the automobile era, when animal-drawn carts and foot traffic 
traveling on single-lane dirt roads met another vehicle traveling in the op- 
posite direction, each pulled half way off the road to facilitate passing. With 
the introduction of the automobile, due to the faster speeds involved, a differ- 
ent type of right of way was demanded, a highway permitting clear travel in 
two directions simultaneously. The simplest type of such a road is two lanes in 
opposite directions. On a two-lane road one car overtaking another traveling 

in the same direction is expected to pass 
by pulling over into the lane of opposing 
traffic. This was adequate at first, when 
there were few cars, but today at mod- 
el ern road speeds, the intrusion of an au- 
1 tomobile moving in one direction into a 

-o line of cars moving in another direction 


I is a matter of life or death. In spite of 


this peril, many state 
highways in the United 
States are still only two 
lanes wide not just a 
great number or large 
majority, but by actual 
count 9 8 per cent. 

Where traffic is heavy, 
the general practice has 
been to add more lanes. 
The unhappy fact is that ADDING LANES MULT ' P LIES ACCIDENTS 
the mere widening of roads tends to promote accidents rather than prevent 
them. Traffic studies indicate that for an equal number of miles traveled there 
are only three accidents on a two-lane road to every four accidents on the 
wider highways. Three-lane highways, where cars fly at each other like game 
cocks battling for use of the center lane, are particularly tempting for head-on 
collisions. To eliminate this danger, on highways widened to four and six lanes 
physical separation of opposing streams of traffic is a recent development. 
Such two-way divided roads are an obvious improvement over the three-lane 
undivided roads. But such physical division is the exception rather than the 
rule, and in its absence, the accident rate increases as the number of lanes is 
increased. Mid-road collisions cause nearly one-fifth of all accidents on the 
highway. Four years ago, Mr. H. C. Dickinson of the National Bureau of 
Standards said: "We should never have built, and should stop building now, 
main country thoroughfares carrying heavy traffic in both directions on the 
same pavement." 

Segregating opposing streams of traffic by means of the one-way street is 
common practice. Nor is it a modern idea. The Romans did it. Today this 


Underwood & Underwoc 

California State Highway Dept. 

venerable practice survives and still proves its worth. Studies 
made on Chestnut, Walnut and Market Streets in Philadelphia, 
before and after their conversion to one-way arteries, show that 
speed is increased by more than 20 per cent, that traffic volume 
is increased by more than 20 per cent, and that accidents be- 
tween intersections have been materially reduced. 

Through the countryside, one-way roads would be equally 
desirable, but they cannot be achieved as simply as one-way 
streets within a city. Closely parallel routes with frequent inter- 
connections are limited to the cities, and the arbitrary conver- 
sion of country roads into one-way traffic channels would work 
a hardship on local traffic. 

The first step toward separating streams of traffic on the exist- 
ing rural highways was taken in 1911, after Edward Hines, Road 
Commissioner of Wayne County, Michigan, saw an automobile 
almost collide with a horse and buggy on a narrow bridge. Real- 
izing that neither driver involved could do more than make a 
guess as to where the exact center of the road lay, Mr. Hines 
ordered white lines painted down the middle of every bridge and 
curve under his authority. Later he extended these lines along the 
full length of his paved roads. That was nearly thirty years ago. 
Today an assortment of solid lines, double lines, dotted lines, 



Portland Cement Assn. 

dashes and arrows, painted white, yellow or black divide the highways. = 


This practice marks an advance in safety, but it is not a guarantee. 1 

Good drivers like to know where the middle of the road is, in order to ^ 


stay away from it. But bad drivers, the road hog, the novice, the drunk, I 
the show-off, and all that reckless tribe, are inclined to straddle the 
mark. Some, with a phobia against the road's edge, hug the line so 
closely that they sideswipe cars to the left of them. 

The neutral strip used for central division on wider roadways is in 
effect a mere broadening of the painted line. From three and a half 
to four feet in width, such a strip is frequently laid in contrasting 
colors of material to differentiate it from that part of the road devoted 
to traffic lanes. 

Lanes themselves have also been laid down in contrasting road sur- 
faces. "Psychology" road design has been tried on the highway between 
Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia; in Rhode Island on the Putnam 
Pike, Gooseneck Hill Road; on the Boston Post Road and others. On 
these four-lane roads, light-colored smooth cement lanes have been 
built on either side of a central paving of coarse- textured black mac- 
adam. The macadam is wide enough for two additional lanes and a three- 
foot neutral strip which is marked off by white lines. No one wants to 
hear the roar of his tires over the rough-surfaced macadam for an 
appreciable distance if he can help it, so drivers keep away from the 
center of the road except when passing. There were twenty-seven ac- 
cidents on the Putnam Pike in 1936, before the center of the road was 
rough-paved, and only eight accidents in the year afterwards. 


On many California roads, arrow-shaped protuberances have been 1= 
set in a line along the middle of the road } not sufficiently high to present 


a hazard but making continuous driving in the center of the road dis- 1 


tinctly uncomfortable. A similar drastic inducement 
to keep the center strip free for emergencies is a series 
of raised domes. These devices undoubtedly serve a 
safety purpose, but it is a curious paradox that road 
builders should deliberately design discomfort into 
heavily traveled highways. 

Still another type of central divider, which takes up 
no more space than the painted line already used for 
marking off one-way traffic, has been tried on Ramona 
Boulevard in Los Angeles. Convex metal bands 
mounted on steel springs at the height of a hub-cap 
had already proved strong and resilient when used as 
roadside guard rails. Two such convex metal bands 
mounted on steel springs were bolted back to back and 
mounted on steel posts in the center of the Boulevard, 
making it impossible for cars to cross over onto the 
opposing lanes. Near Lansing, Michigan, a strip of cor- 
rugated steel has been laid down the center of the road, 
with slanting grooves so designed that they grip the 
wheels of an encroaching car and turn it back onto its 
lane of the highway. 

Devices of this type are possible, however, only on 
wide roadways with room for at least two lanes on each 
side of the road, so that no car need ever cross over 
into opposing streams of traffic. And they do not pre- 
vent a car that is out of control from crashing across 
the road. 

On a few thoroughfares there has been one masterly 



Portland Cement Assn. 


improvement in design. It is the first real step toward motorways on which 
cars can move in safety at the speed for which they were built. On about .one- 
fifth of the 3,303 miles of four- and six-lane roads in our state highway 
systems, the road is now divided by something more effective than painted 
lines and bumpy arrows. Raised islands have been introduced on many roads 
which provide a real barrier between streams of opposing traffic. Highways 
with central division of this sort were first tried out around large cities, nota- 
bly Detroit, in 1925. As late as 1931, they were not widely favored by high- 
way engineers, but now they are generally considered to have proven their 
worth, despite the fact that their average cost is a third greater than that of 
the undivided four-lane highway. In a mile-long stretch of highway on Chi- 
cago's Outer Drive, where this type of division is used, the fatal accident 
rate for four years has been only one in every forty million vehicle miles, 
which is one-fifth the accident rate of the nation as a whole. 

The central division of two-way thoroughfares, then, varies all the way 
from the painted line to wide parkways planted with shrubbery to screen off 
one side of the road from the other. The best central parkway divisions have 
low, sloping arched curbs, tending to slow down cars which are forced off the 


roadway by any emergency, and thus making it easier to stop them safely. 

The outside edge of the road presents dangers that must also be eliminated. 
One of the earliest devices used to prevent vehicles from encroaching on pedes- 
trian walkways is the simple curb. But as a roadside guard for motor traffic, 
it is too rigid and unyielding. More resilient roadside guards have long been 
employed along curves and embankments, and have proved more effective in 
holding cars on the road. Convex metal bands and steel cable strung between 
concrete posts are in common use. Wide grass strips along the right of way of 
many new boulevards provide safety for a car forced off the road surface by 
an emergency, and enable it to park without blocking the lane. 

There are other elements of traffic which must be separated too. It is not 
enough just to separate traffic moving in opposite directions. To prevent cars 
weaving from lane to lane and to eliminate sideswiping, lanes of cars moving 
in the same direction must be divided one from another. Separators which re- 
quire an appreciable amount of road space are unsuited to segregating individ- 
ual lanes. Experiments have been conducted with many types that are suffi- 
ciently compact to be practical for lane division. 

Four or five years ago, ruts were built into the Queensboro Bridge in New 
York City, but they were so ineptly designed that the experiment was aban- 
doned after a few days. The fault was one of design the spacing between 
ruts was wrong, so that considerable damage was done to tires, and the width 
of the ruts was too close to tire width so that unless the driver was practiced 
at driving in these particular ruts he continually burned the sidewall of one 
tire or another. Raised portions along the center part of the lane, which the 
car must straddle, have been tried, too, in an attempt to keep cars in a partic- 
ular lane. These humps, ruts or rails are attempts to provide for the automo- 
bile tracks which are as restricting as railroad tracks are to the train. They are 
experimental types and not always successful, but at least they point in the 





right direction, toward methods of segregating individual lanes 
of traffic. 

A more practical solution to this problem might be found just 
by looking at the simplest of our roads. People who have lived on 
the land will remember that on dirt roads which had been worn 
down below the level of the fields by travel it was difficult for 
even a runaway horse to crash with its buggy into a rail fence up 
above. The chance angle of roadside slope would automatically 
turn the buggy's wheels back onto the road. If something desir- 
able can happen by chance, why shouldn't it be made to function 
even better by design? Suppose that the edge of a modern con- 
crete highway did not stop, as it often does, in a declivity or soft 
shoulder, but was curved up at either side. Any car out of con- 
trol would be automatically turned back onto the road, if the 
curve were properly designed. The upward curving edge of the 
road itself could effectively serve both as safety device and 

Many devices of this sort have been patented. Some separators 
are designed in the form of a wave crest, running along the sides 

of the road. As a runaway car climbs up toward the under side 

of the wave's crest, its wheels are deflected back onto the straight < H HER 


course. 1 his type or separator could be built of steel mesh woven SIDE BARRIER 


in basket-weave fashion. It could be made of concrete, built as part of the 
road itself. It could be of prefabricated sheet-metal construction. More flexi- 
ble materials would lessen the shock in turning the car back to its channel. 

Separators can prevent sideswiping and head-on accidents, but as long as 
there are cars moving at different speeds in the same lane of traffic there will 
be delay and the danger of rear-end collision. Attempts have been made to 
separate passenger cars from trucks by forbidding the heavier vehicles to use 
certain highways; but this does not make for a larger and more efficient use of 

our roadways. The motor truck and the motor car are capable of maintaining 


comparable speed, and as long as a truck can move fast enough to keep out of 

the way of the car behind it, there seems to be no more valid reason for sepa- 
rating it from the passenger car than there would be for separating red cars 
from blue ones. The traffic problem will not be solved by setting aside one road 
for larger vehicles and another for small ones. All that need be expected of 
any motor vehicle using the highway is that it stay out of the way of other 
cars. This involves a question of speed, not of size. 

In a large percentage of accidents, high speed is not the primary factor, 
though it may greatly increase their intensity. In the last eleven years, the 
maximum speeds at which passenger cars can travel have been increased by 5 
per cent, and there is no indication that a top limit has been approached. Per- 
missible speeds on the highways lag far behind the effective speed of a car. 
Disregarding the question of highway intersection, the subject discussed in 
the next chapter, if cars could be kept apart, traveling in each lane at uniform 
speeds, with physical separation between the lanes and automatic control be- 
tween cars to provide equal spacing, cars could travel with safety at much 
greater speeds than they do today. Although many states have established 
maximum speed limits, and twenty-two states have legislation concerning driv- 
ing at unreasonably low speeds, few attempts have been made to fix definitely 


the speed of automobiles on any given highway or in any particular lane of any 
highway. To be effective such restrictions must be absolute, and they should 
not be enforced by law, but automatically. Legislation which permits the 
driver to apply his own initiative could not be made sufficiently rigid. 

Automatic controls have already been provided to govern certain factors 
of traffic operation. The most common of these is perhaps the automatic 
traffic-light system. And it is not a much greater engineering undertaking 
to develop controls which can be made to provide definite speed standardiza- 
tion on the highway. Photo-electric traffic traps are individual means used 
today for measuring traffic speed, which is merely the first step toward con- 
trol. William A. Halstead is developing a small short-range radio broadcasting 
unit which has as its primary purpose the instruction of traffic. This unit 
located along the highway can broadcast messages to motorists through their 
standard car radio equipment for the particular section of the highway cov- 
ered by the transmitter station. The transmitter repeats the traffic bulletins 
automatically, and these bulletins may be instantly changed at the transmitter 
or by telephone from a central traffic station. Experiments are being con- 
ducted with a cable along the highway, from which messages emanate. The 
same mechanism could transmit visual traffic light signals directly to minia- 
ture signal lights within the car. Further developments of this system along 
the lines of car-to-car radio hook-up might be used to advise a driver nearing 
an intersection of the approach of another car or even to maintain control of 
speed and spacing of cars in the same traffic lane. 

In essentials, the methods of controlling traffic which have been described 
here provide for a restricted right of way in the form of individual traffic 
lanes, and for the standardization of the speeds of cars within each of these 
lanes. Here we have a direct comparison to the railroad. The tracks provide 
definite control as to the path which a train must follow, and the railroad 


signal block system controls spacing between trains on the same track or 
traffic lane. These devices could be applied directly to the control of automo- 
bile traffic. A road surface constructed with grooves in which the car would 
be guided would prevent the car from deviating from its fixed lane of travel. 
Also, the highway could be divided into signal blocks acting to prevent the 
cars from encroaching upon one another. However, applying such control 
means to automobile traffic becomes too restrictive and prevents the full 
utilization of the benefits of the automobile which come from the car's flexi- 
bility. Nor is such a control system applicable to the characteristic operations 
of the automobile. 

Within the field of science there are many potential devices which could be 
developed to fit exactly the needs of traffic control as they have been defined 
here. One of these, for instance, the radio beam, is now being used in a limited 
form for the guiding of the airplane on its course. The field of electro- 
magnetic emanations, which cover a very wide field of electric-wave impulses, 
is probably the best adapted to the control of traffic. It is conceivable that a 



control operating directly 
as a radio beam, broad- 
cast from stations located 
along the highway 
could provide the control 
desired. Or perhaps more 
simply, an electrical con- 
ductor imbedded within 
the road surface, carrying 
an electric current pro- 
ducing an electro-mag- 
netic field, might provide 
direct control. 

Having provided a con- 
trol medium, whatever its 
form, it is logical to ex- 
could be applied to control both the speed of the car and its path of travel. A 
constant prescribed speed on the highway can be maintained by causing the 
impulses to accelerate or decelerate the car engine. By the same method the in- 
terval between cars can be set and controlled. The interval would be set to 
conform with the safe stopping distance necessary for the speed of the car. The 
individual instructions for each car would be transmitted over the control axis. 
Therefore, we have within one control medium the ability to maintain these 
cars within a lane and to maintain them at a uniform standardized speed. 
Also it would not be necessary to widen highways to set up this type of 
invisible separator and control, as it would be with physical separators. This 
automatic control of a car could not be put into the car alone or into the 


New York Central Railroad 




highway, alone. The major 
part will be in the car, but its 
complementary elements must 
be in the highway. 

Whether lanes of traffic are 
segregated by physical sepa- 
rators or by some type 
of automatic mechanism, 
lanes within the highway will 
be designed to permit traffic 
operation at specified, con- 
trolled speeds. In the case of 
multi-lane highways, it is con- 
ceivable that a certain lane 
may be designed for high- 
speed travel and other lanes 
for a lower speed. All the ad- 
vanced features of highway 
design will be incorporated in 

Norman Bel Geddes. 1935 

mu l t i-lane motorways. 

Separate strips of motorway 
will be constructed for traffic flowing at different specific speeds. 

The automatically controlled motorway will provide for low, medium and 
high speeds, and those speeds will be mechanically enforced so that there will 
be no variation from them. Separate lanes within these strips will allow traffic 
to move at controlled speeds. When you drive, you choose your lane accord- 
ing to how fast you want to go, and the speed is automatically maintained as 
long as you are in that lane. The miles fly by under your wheels. Nothing 


short of an unforeseen emergency will permit you to slow down. No chicken 
or pedestrian can stray in from the roadside. The motorway is designed ex- 
clusively for the motorist. Others will be kept off by physical barriers, and 
physical or electro-magnetic separators hold you to a carefree, undeviating 
course down the center of your lane. 

When you desire to drive in a faster or slower speed lane, a means is pro- 
vided for transferring from one speed to another. At transition points, lo- 
cated at regular intervals on the motorway, the grass space between groups 
of speed lanes is broadened out. In this space is a single-lane cross-over channel 
that permits a gradual approach from one speed lane to another. It is long 
enough to allow your car to accelerate or decelerate to the speed of the lane to 
which you are changing. Before the transition point is reached, you press a 
button on your instrument panel, indicating that you want to turn left or 
right into the next lane, just as today you press a button on your radio to tune 
in on a station of a particular wave length. When your car reaches the en- 
trance to the cross-over channel, the controlling device in your car picks up 
and is guided by the controlling forces from the cross-over channel, switching 
the car from the straight-through lane into 
this channel. Once on this lane, the control 
gradually brings you to the speed of the new 
lane in which you are to travel. Similarly your 
car is switched into the new lane at the junc- 
tion between it and the cross-over. 

Temporarily there may be no space avail- 
able on that lane because of traffic density. 
When such a condition exists, your car, start- 
ing to travel on the cross-over, is switched 
into a lane running between the two groups 



Futurama Photo by General Motors 



of speed lanes and parallel to them. On this you slow down or stop, until re- 
ceiving a "clear" signal, then accelerate and enter the higher- or lower-speed 
traffic lane. Any delay encountered occasionally at a point like this is more 
than compensated for by the steady, even pace you are able to maintain once 
you are in your desired speed lane. And, of course, there may be no delay at all. 
If the lane is clear, you enter the new lane without stopping. 

Whether you are shifting from low speed to medium, medium to high, or 
from the higher speeds to the lower, this same procedure is followed. And as 
you enter a lane, you never have to jam frantically on your brakes, fearing 
that as you emerge into the traffic stream a car may come hurtling at you. 
When the automatic controls allow you to make the shift, you make it with 
perfect safety. Once in the lane, cars move ahead, behind and on either side 
of you, but automatic lane separation and spacing make it impossible for an- 
other car to collide with you, sideswipe you or cut in ahead of you. Car-to-car 
or station-to-car control keeps the automobile behind you at its proper dis- 
tance. You do not need to use your horn (with which your car is equipped for 
local roads) on this motorway, because you never have to pass a car. You 
cannot go faster. The car ahead of you cannot slow down. The car in front 
moves on at the same speed as your own because both cars are traveling at 
the automatically prescribed speed within that lane. Before you the road 
is always clear, as far as you need to use it. 

At regular intervals along the motorway there are traffic control sta- 
tions. These may be located about five miles apart. The officers in each tower 
have complete authority over the section of road two and a half miles 
on either side of them. From their vantage point they can see the traffic 
flowing past them, and with their instruments they can communicate with 
any car in the territory under their jurisdiction. 

Suppose that on this motorway you run out of gas or have engine failure 



Kurt Sell 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


or a pump leak. A slowing down or stopped car automatically notifies the 
two nearest traffic control towers. From either control tower the stopped car 
could probably be seen. It is within two and a half miles of one or the other 
tower. It takes the cars in front of you about six minutes to clear the two and 
a half miles. Cars behind the stopped car would be turned off into other 
lanes of traffic if adjacent lanes were not at capacity. An emergency car from 


the control tower would immediately speed down the new open lane and 
would remove your car from traffic. Stoppage of traffic in this lane would 
affect a minimum of cars for a maximum of ten minutes. No glass would be 
shattered, no cars crumpled, no blood shed, no lives taken. 

A motorway of this type, permitting constant high speeds, lies in the near 
future. But the ability to travel in this manner already lies in your car today. 
It is simply that disorderly, congested traffic on roads originally designed for 
wagons prevents the car from utilizing its potentialities. But functional road 
design will cure this situation. 



F A psychiatrist were set to work examining all the occupational neuroses of 
the motorist, it might take him years to do the cataloguing. But any driver 
can investigate his own lost temper, jagged nerves and week-end nightmares. 
Just put him on the open road and he will give his diagnosis without further 
delay. Wiping his brow he will admit that the cause is not complex or far to 
seek; its name is simply "frustration." 

The old phrase, "the open road," always had a pleasant connotation. In 
earlier days the roads bore so little traffic that they were really open. There 
were no cars at a standstill wherever roads met. The meeting of hay wagons 
at the crossing of two farm roads was not a serious traffic condition. They 
were not moving fast enough. With the advent of the automobile, however, 
a real problem was created and the solution to this problem is a real necessity 
in this day of increasing traffic volume. There are many conditions under 
which different roads meet, each of them creating a separate problem; but 
essentially the conditions fall into two categories the junction and the inter- 

[85 1 



A junction occurs when two roads or lanes 
come together without crossing one another. 
The shape of such junctions may take the form 
of a T when roads join at right angles, or may 
form a Y if they join at an acute angle. Both 
types are extremely common along highways 
today. They offer no great problem of solution 
if one of the roads carries traffic in one direction 
only, thus avoiding left-hand turns across traf- 
fic. But when traffic moves in two directions 
on both roads, it is a very serious problem. For complete flexibility of traffic 
movement in such a case, left-hand turns must be permitted. Under present 
highway design practice this can only be accomplished satisfactorily with 
traffic lights. 

The first problem which the average motorist runs into every day is right 
at his own driveway, at the junction where the driveway meets the street 
forcing him to make a right-angled turn. He wants to turn into the street, 
but he is blocked off by traffic there. He gets off to a slow start. When he gets 
an opening, he swings out into the flow of traffic, at once becoming an ob- 
struction at his slower speed, due to the small radius of the turn. 

When two or more roads or streams of traffic come together and cross each 
other an intersection is created. Here the driver has all the difficulties of a 
junction cars turning into each others' paths plus the difficulties of cars 
crossing each others' paths. The simple definition of an intersection conceals 
the confusion that may result when at some city square or circle a half dozen 
traffic channels, of different sizes and densities, aim at each other from all 
around the compass. The intersection is the chief stumbling block for high- 


Underwood & Underwood 

way designers and the chief headache for the traffic police. It is 
inherently the most heavily used point on the highway. Those 
standards of safety, comfort, speed and economy do not find 
very eloquent expression at that point. Every major intersection 
is a scene of contest or conflict usually supervised by an umpire 
in the form of a traffic light, assisted by one or more traffic 

The conventional cross-shaped intersection served its purpose 
when conveyances were light and traffic was sparse. The old 
mud-and-dust buggy crossing, although a relic of the past, may 
until recently have met all needs. There are still back roads where 
that crossing is adequate if a driver can look out for the other 
car over a wide stretch of fields. The chance of collision in thinly 
populated open country is remote. Even if the automobile driver 
slows down, his loss of time is slight, and it is not multiplied out 
of all reason by the resulting delay to hundreds of cars behind 
him. This same driver will lose more time and run more risks at 
intersecting streets and well-paved highways guarded by traffic 
lights than he will where wagon roads cross in the fields. 

Why should the crossroads most heavily traveled today be the 
ones that are least adapted to the safe flow of the vehicles that 
use them? The average car weighs about a ton and a half. At 
sixty miles an hour a car would strike a stationary object with 
as much force as if it had been dropped from a twelve-story 
building, and the chance that you may strike or be struck by one 
of them as you cross a highway checks your speed at every inter- 

Camera Guild 

i t ,. iiir i WHEN YOU SEE YOUR 

The intersection problem is complicated by the fact that it NEIGHBOR COMING 


tangles many kinds of traffic. It tangles pedestrian traffic, livestock, slow cars, 
fast cars which because of their half dozen inherent different speeds cause 
confusion and breakdown of the optimum speed. Over and beyond that there 
are the many street corners that have their own particular human factor in 
the shape of the traffic cop and his privileges. The cop too often exercises his 
own idea of traffic control rather than enforcing a predetermined plan. Street 
corners have their own quota of signs bearing directions, instructions and 
warnings. At railroad grade-crossings, sign language has been particularly 
prevalent. The driver approaches the danger-spot often hidden behind a 
curve keeping his eye on the road. At the same moment a suspended sign 
tells him to "stop, look and listen." But he can't keep his eye on the road and 
on the signs too. The universal American stop sign has a fatal tendency to 
appear so frequently that it is ignored. Surveys have shown that six drivers out 
of every ten drive past them without making a stop. Yet, the signs are the first 

line of defense of right-angled grade crossings, 
camera Guild This type of intersection occurs on three- 
fourths of all the occasions when two Ameri- 
can thoroughfares meet. If you put up a 
traffic sign you are putting your trust in the 
driver's proper functioning, his willingness to 
cooperate, his individual sense of caution. 
These are risky, unstable factors to rely upon. 
Large signs, clanging bells, watchmen waving 
flags, and gates barring the way are just a few 
of the most common devices which have been 
tried at railroad crossings to abolish accidents. 
Intersections should be designed so that in- 
stead of requesting safety, they guarantee it. 


Human factors at rail- 
road crossings, even when 
given these aids, are de- 
scribed in many national 
statistics. A single exam- 
ple may be just as dra- 
matic. A study made by 
the Erie Railroad of the 
total number of grade- 
crossing accidents along 
its lines in 1937 showed: Acme AND TWENTY-TWO PER CENT LOSE 

in 6 per cent of the cases the cars crashed through the lowered bars and then 
collided with a train; in 20 per cent, the watchman's stop signs were ignored; 
in 22 per cent the automobiles ran into the side of the train. Nearly 70 per 
cent of these accidents occurred at grade crossings protected by flashers, gates 
or watchmen and in nearly 30 per cent of the cases, cars stalled in front of 
the train. 

Motorists and railroad authorities are aware of the element of peril accom- 
panying the human factor. For years there has been agitation, in small town- 
ships as well as in state legislatures, to eliminate railroad grade crossings. 
About 2000 over- or un- 
derpasses are built each 
year. But that figure pales 
into insignificance when 
one learns that over 230,- 
000 primitive grade cross- 
ings still remain. This is 
an average of about one 

Harry L. Newman 

FROM "LIFE" 1907 


grade crossing for each mile of railroad in the country. 

The practice of delaying half the traffic to give the other half a right of 
way goes back to the earliest days of the railroad. The first railroads improved 
upon the pace of horse-drawn traffic but did not improve on its intersection 
design. The result was train wrecks. To curb the incidence of murder at cross- 
ings, a Kansas legislator drafted the following bill, and helped to have it en- 
acted: "When two trains meet at an intersection both shall come to a full stop, 
and neither shall proceed until the other gets out of the way." 

More than half of all intersection accidents between two automobiles 
occur at right-angled crossings. At in intersection, the driver usually has two 
choices: to lose time but play safe by stopping before the intersection, or to 
save time but take a chance by going ahead. A fast-moving vehicle on a 
straight stretch of highway driven by a good driver with a better than average 
reaction time requires a certain stopping distance when an obstacle appears in 
its path. At an intersection there is a further complication, because the driver 
now sees approaching at a right angle another vehicle whose speed he must esti- 
mate. He must be sure that his car and the other one will not meet at the 
intersection at the same minute and he must be sure of that fact at a distance 
from the intersection not only dependent on his speed but the estimated speed 
of the opposing car. What is even more vital is this: if he does make up his 
mind, and the other driver also makes up his mind, are they going to agree? It 
is a worse gamble than throwing dice. At least in dice one of the players is 
sure to win. 

The last few years have seen many ingenious attempts to coax surer re- 
sponses out of the consciousness of the driver as he hurtles, innocently or 
absently, toward an intersection. In California, the approach to certain inter- 
sections has been made intentionally bumpy, to joggle fast drivers into slowing 
down before they reach the crossing. The cluster of bumps on the road before an 


intersection wakes up and warns the sleepy or absent-minded driver. Another 
idea is a pressed diamond pattern in the concrete at intersectional approaches. 
The rush of the driver's tires over the pattern gives off a loud hum, distinct 
from the sound of the smooth-surfaced road with a clear right of way, and 
thus serves as a reminder. 

But the universal deterrent is still the traffic light. In its usual form it 
switches on and off, red to green, with no more than a theoretical regard for 
the volume of traffic actually moving or halting before it. It calls on the 
motorist for patience, submission and a waste of time, gas and nerves. 

The Automatic Signal Corporation already has perfected a system which 
has reduced these nuisances. A unit buried in the road operates the traffic 
lights as a car passes over it. The device can be set so that the light can remain 
fixed for any interval desired. After that period, which may be long enough 
for several cars to pass through, it changes. A car running over the device im- 
mediately after this change cannot trip the signal again until a certain time 
has elapsed. The fixed interval is dependent on the traffic volume, the period 
being longer on the highway with the greatest density. Besides this system, an 
electro-magnetic device is in extensive use, which functions similarly, but the 
activating mechanism is a roller set flush in the road surface. 

There have been reformers and idealists in the cause of stop-and-go lights. 
As early as 1916, Ernest P. Goodrich and others began to advocate the use of 
signals so systematized that if a motorist drove at a stipulated, uniform speed, 
he would find all the lights green as he approached them. Two types of this 
system for continuous movement of cars have been devised. In one, all lights 
on one street change at the same time, but these lights are grouped, say, three 
greens together, then three reds. The second type, a flexible progressive system, 
was first installed in the Chicago Loop area in 1926. Under this system, the 
length of time allotted to the green light is adjusted to the stipulated speed of 


cars approaching it and also to the length of the block down which they travel. 
It is considerably more expensive to install and maintain than the simpler 
system, but it comes nearer to providing what is necessary a steady flow of 
traffic all along our highways. 

Beyond such ingenious devices lie the solutions which do away with traffic 
lights entirely. When the driver approaches what he knows will be a busy 
intersection, it is a pleasant surprise, instead of having to jam on the brakes at 
the flash of a red light, to find himself routed upon a circular roadway from 
which four highways radiate. He wants to turn left, but he is deflected to the 
right around the traffic circle. Two cars are immediately ahead of him. He 
sees one of them turn out to complete a right-hand turn, and the other turn 
right at the half-way point to continue in the original direction before the 
circle was reached. His own car goes three-quarters of the way around before 
it completes the left turn. Only when he is out of the circle does he realize that 
two-directional traffic from four points of the compass went around that 
rotary simultaneously and no car stopped. All cars moved in the same direc- 
tion, so there could be no head-on crashes. Right-angle collisions are a possibil- 
ity at the junctions of the thoroughfares with the circle. However, the risk 
of rear-end and sideswiping complications is considerable. Progress around 
the rotary is slow, for all cars have to weave from lane to lane and are slowed 
down by the cars feeding in ahead. The rotary is not a final solution. 

Traffic circles such as 
these have been intro- 
duced into rural highways 
quite recently, but they 
were employed in city 
street design long before 
there was any motor traf - 


E. Donald Sterner, New Jersey Highway Commissioner 

fie at all. Monument Circle in Indianapolis was designed in 1821, by Ralston, 
an assistant of Major L'Enfant. It is now used by as many as 2000 cars an 
hour, and serves as the terminal for all the city bus lines. The four smaller 
"islands" at the entrance to each of the four avenues radiating from the circle 
serve pedestrians and act to turn traffic to its proper course. The comparatively 
large size of the central circle is highly desirable for rotary traffic, but it is also 
important to have wide curves where traffic turns into the circle. In this in- 
stance, the curb radius at these corners is only fifteen feet. As the minimum 
turning radius of American cars varies from seventeen to twenty-six feet, 
none can make this turn, no matter at what speed, without edging over into 
the path of cars to the left. 

The rotary circle located in rural highways where traffic is intermittent 
allows for a constant and steady flow of traffic at all times. Although such 
traffic may have to slow up somewhat due to the limited radius of the circle as 
generally built, such traffic can at least move INDIANAPOLIS' FAMOUS MONUMENT DOESN'T 
through the intersection without danger of 
serious collision. If these radii were increased 
to the comparable speed of the traffic, slowing 
down would not be necessary. Also if route 
directions were supplied to the driver before 
he reached the traffic circle, much of the con- 
fusion and retardation of the traffic flow 
within the circle, due to the attention of the 
driver being diverted when looking for direc- 
tion signs, would be eliminated. Traffic circles 
handling large volumes of traffic are very in- 
efficient due to the weaving from lane to lane 
in dense traffic. 



Portland Cement Assn. 

Constant and steady flow results only when conflicting currents of moving 
traffic are really segregated. This can be obtained by overpasses and under- 
passes which provide a high degree of safety. The best commentary, for ex- 
ample, on the elimination of railroad grade crossings is that from 1928 to 
1939 although the number of cars using the road has increased by over five 
million the number of fatalities at crossings has decreased by 40 per cent. 
To most people overpasses and underpasses for roadways are welcome new 
departures. But actually they are not so new. These ideas, along with other 
very sophisticated methods of traffic control, were used over eighty years ago. 

Most people who today use the segregated footpaths, bridle paths, prom- 
enades, and cross-town arteries of New York's Central Park have never heard 
the names Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. Least of all do they 
realize that the park was laid out in the pre- jigsaw days of 1858, and that 
Olmstead's and Vaux's designing was so sound and so prophetic that it has 
never had to be subjected to major changes. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic 
in Central Park are separated, to their mutual advantage. There are meander- 
ing pleasure paths, but there are also straight channels for commercial traffic 
to cross the park by the most direct route. Slow traffic is not endangered and 
fast traffic is not impeded. One is completely segregated from the other. Olm- 


stead's and Vaux's plan also provided for a uniform directional flow of traffic 
moving counterclockwise through the park without intersectional delay. 
With such a history of daring innovations, Central Park could well have be- 
come the public school for several generations of American highway engineers. 
To sum up: two ideas have taken hold in modern intersectional design. 
First is that of the overpass or underpass which makes it possible to drive 
straight through an intersection at full speed. Second is that of the traffic 

Underwood & Underwood 


circle which makes it possible to turn from one road into another without a 
stop. It was inevitable that these two ideas should be combined. The result is 
the "cloverleaf " intersection. The complete cloverleaf pattern provides sepa- 
rate channels for through traffic, right- and left-hand turns. Through traffic 
keeps straight on over or under the other road. A right turn is made on the 
diagonal to the right of the driver. To make a left turn, the driver continues 
on the through traffic lane to the far side of the underpass, turns right, and 


E. Donald Sterner, New Jersey Highway Commissioner 


makes a complete circle along the border of one of the four leaves which are 
ramped, connecting lower and upper road levels. 

In comparison with an ordinary intersection, it is manifestly a very superior 
but expensive structure. When built at the crossing of two heavily traveled 
highways it may result in a saving of countless vehicle hours a year, as well as 
innumerable lives. But it is not the final solution. Although there is no light 
to stop the traffic, the left turn has to be constructed with such a sharp 
curve that cars must reduce speed to between eight and ten miles an hour to 
turn left safely. For an individual driver, this loss of speed may represent 
nothing more than an annoyance. But if traffic in the right-hand lane is heavy, 
the reduced speed of the car making a left-hand turn is reflected back to the 
rest of the cars behind, and the old familiar wasteful traffic jam appears again. 

If an intersection was crucial to a motorist yesterday, it was not because 
his car was fast, but because it was not dependable. His brakes were not good ; 
they might make him coast across the road when traffic was against him. His 


engine might stall as he crossed. The problem today is not the physical fact of 
difficulty in crossing streams of traffic, but those continual slight pauses of a 
minute or so the equivalent of miles of travel. The solution is a continuous 
flow of traffic with speed and safety. 

In place of the present system of prohibitive and directive control, there 
should be a system that functions automatically. Such a system includes both 
the highway and the driver. The highway, ideally designed, must be self- 
functioning; and the driver must function easily as part of it. 

Look ahead twenty years to a picture of the crossing point of two major 
two-directional highway routes. Here seven lanes of traffic move in four di- 
rections safely, easily, and with no diminution of speed. 

The straight-ahead, free movement of through traffic on all lanes is accom- 
plished by use of the underpass. Both right and left turns are made at fifty- 
mile speed only, on additional lanes entirely separate from those carrying the 
through traffic. The motorways incorporate automatically controlled speed 
reduction points enabling cars to reduce to fifty miles an hour before reaching 
the intersection approaches. A driver desiring to turn right onto the crossing 
motorway must be in the right lane of the fif ty-mile-an-hour group. The auto- 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


matic motorway control provides for his crossing safely into this lane. At a 
point approximately two and a half miles from the intersection his car is eased 
to the right out of the through- traffic flow and he travels along a paralleling 
lane which becomes a ramped curve to the right. The grade is easy, the gener- 
ous curve scarcely perceptible. As this curving lane nears the crossing motor- 
way it straightens out, and the car traveling over it gradually flows into the 
outside fifty-mile through- traffic lane. If a driver on the motorway wants to 
make a left turn at one of these intersections, he must do so from the left fifty- 
mile lane. From this lane he diverges to the left into a separate parallel lane, 
speeds along on a gently ramping curve sweeping to the left, parallels the cross- 
ing motorway and gradually merges into a space in the flow of cars moving 


in the innermost fifty-mile lane. Speed and spacing on this intersection are 
controlled automatically and there is no interference with the motorway 
traffic. The turning-off lanes are elevated or depressed so that there is no inter- 
ference. This new type of intersection occupies no greater area than the clover- 
leaf of 1940, when the proportion of the motorway and its capacity of traffic 
in comparison with present-day roads are taken into consideration. 

Although the cost of constructing such an intersection would be consider- 
ably more than that of constructing today's cloverleaf, that too costs more 
than the intersection of former times; and where traffic is heavy there is an in- 
crease in safety, speed, comfort, and economy that is as great as that provided 
by the cloverleaf over previous intersections. The economy in this case is not 
derived from a reduction in original construction costs, but from a very real, 
cumulative dollars-and-cents saving to the motorists who use it. 

In discussing the problems of traffic on the highways, in the preceding 
chapter, it was pointed out that physical means built into the highway are 
possible solutions for overcoming the dangers of traffic and the retardation of 



traffic flow; but that the adaptation of advanced scientific principles to pro- 
vide a guide operating completely automatically in conjunction with the 
highway and the car offered the only solution to the traffic problem on a 
straight stretch of highway. Similar dangerous and inefficient traffic condi- 
tions exist in regard to the highway intersection. To alleviate these conditions 
it is possible to build an advanced type of highway intersection such as that 
just described. 

Suppose for a minute that all cars on a highway operated on a cog track, 
within the road surface; that they were spaced equal distances apart on all 
highways, and that they were driven on this cog track at equal speeds. With 
such a physically controlled system it would be possible at an intersection to 
control the cars on one highway to make them pass through the spaces between 
cars on the crossing highway and vice versa, with complete safety and at any 
speed. This same control can be obtained by adapting the electro-magnetic 
control utilized for regulating the car speed and spacing along uninterrupted 
stretches of highway. The application of such automatic control to the inter- 
section would provide for continuous infiltration of the two crossing streams 
of traffic, both streams of traffic operating continuously at constant speed, 
without interruption, and without physical separation. 

Infiltration is a military term used to denote a method of attack by which 
the attacking troops sift through the enemy line and are re-formed when the 
objective is reached. This word "infiltration" aptly describes the operation of 
an automatic control of intersecting traffic. The method of providing a con- 
tinuous and uninterrupted flow of through traffic at any intersection is based 
on the automatic regulation of uniform spacing of cars in their respective 
lanes and the maintenance of a constant speed in all lanes. Added to this funda- 
mental requirement is the need for control between cars in different lanes and 
the correlation of the control mechanism of the intersecting highways. 


One factor important to this concept and important to all traffic flow is 
that maneuvering and turning lanes are outside and apart from through lanes. 
As rural highways approach an intersection they should be widened by one 
lane on each side to provide for this. In the case of urban streets where such 
widening is impossible, it is necessary to keep the outside or curb lane free of 
parked cars and through traffic in order that this lane be always available 
for maneuvering. Also important is the radius of curves used on intersecting 
highways. They should be of sufficient magnitude to permit cars turning from 
one route into the other without reducing speed. Present-day city streets with 
their small curb radii will not allow this, so that turns must be made at re- 
duced speeds. 

With these physical requirements and means of automatic control, any 
type of intersection or junction at grade can be made safe and efficient. Cars 
traveling directly through an intersection remain on the straight through 
lanes of the highway and maintain their speed and direction without change 
and without interruption. They weave through spaces provided between the 
cars in the crossing traffic. This process of infiltration or cross-weaving goes 
on continuously. Uniform car-to-car spacing and speed are maintained in 
both directions at all times. The parallel maneuvering lanes lead directly into 
the curves necessary for making a right-hand turn. Here, too, there is no 
interruption and a car, after taking the curve, automatically flows into the 
line of through traffic in the new direction which it desires to take. This 
maneuver is no different from that which would take place on the physically 
separated type of intersection previously described. 

Cars proposing to make a left-hand turn will also draw over into the right- 
hand maneuvering lane but instead of following the sweeping curve to the 
right will continue straight ahead. At a designated point in this lane, the car 
will automatically start a left turn. In making this turn, it will cross the 



. .1 



v 3 / 





i t 




V / 











36 SEC 




through lanes of traffic to reach the maneuvering lane parallel to the lanes of 
traffic which travel in the new direction which the car is to take. From the 
maneuvering lane the car will flow into the regular traffic stream. Again, this 
infiltration process is made possible by the correlation of the control method 
provided in each lane of traffic. 

It becomes necessary to provide accurate predetermined spacing of cars, 
and to maintain uniform speed in each lane as well as in each of the intersect- 
ing highways, and a definite and fixed relation between these factors in each 
of the lanes of traffic. When that is done, this type of intersection can be 
applied, regardless of the number of lanes operating in the highway, and 
regardless of the speed of travel in these lanes. 

A free-flowing traffic system necessarily must consider the small with the 
great; it must solve all the problems that are an everyday occurrence to every 
driver of a car. The retardation to the smooth flow of traffic on the highways 
and streets of this country starts way back at the smallest intersection and 
progressively gets worse as the volume of traffic increases. 

In spite of the fact that the problems at the large intersection are more 
obvious than they are at the small crossroad, the curative measures needed 
in both situations are similar. They may differ in detail and degree, but they 





s / 



s 5 





04 SEC. 


95 SEC 


Norman Bel Geddes. 1938 


should be examined from the same viewpoint. In all intersections, the follow- 
ing standards should be maintained: i) the radii of the curves should be 
adapted to the prescribed speed on the intersecting roads so that speed can be 
maintained without interruption; 2) the view from every direction should 
extend far enough so that all approaching cars will be plainly visible; 3) 
curves should be banked to facilitate comfortable maintenance of speed; 4) 
wherever practicable, a car control system should operate which will provide 
for the infiltration of traffic without interruption. 

Every intersection in the country today is obsolete because the fundamental 
precepts of traffic flow safety, comfort, speed and economy are not con- 
sidered as a unit but are chosen as separate items on which to base new develop- 
ments. One intersection considers safety only as its foundation, neglecting 
the other vital considerations; another is constructed under the rules of com- 
fort. Rarely are both safety and economy of time built into the same traffic 
crossing. And as long as these fundamentals are allowed to be broken up, just 
so long will intersections remain obsolete. 



is a bottleneck? It isn't just 
congestion. Congestion is a general term- 
some thing that applies to the forty-eight states, 
with special application to Greater New York, 
greater Los Angeles, Detroit and a good many 
other greater and lesser places. A bottleneck 
is something specific a narrowing space caus- 
ing convergence, like a funnel. A bottleneck 
is a special phase of the problem of converging 
traffic. It is the place where a greater number 
of traffic lanes funnel up to a given point than 
there are lanes available to take the resulting 
volume beyond the point. No highway en- 
gineer would consciously design a bottleneck. 
Yet there are so many varieties of the species 
that they bear classification. 

Camera Guild 



Portland Cement Assn. 


One of the most frequent might be called the "county-line bottleneck." 
This occurs when a fine glittering four-lane highway suddenly stops, like the 
end of an expression of local pride, at an invisible boundary. The implication 
seems to be that there is no point in driving farther. It happens because some- 
one has planned a four-lane road in one county, and the next county joins it 
with just a two-lane road. It is due to lack of coordinated planning. Beyond 
the line the road may become a two-lane macadam job, of pre-Prohibition 

Type two is the "detour bottleneck." That occurs when road repair work 
widening or reconstruction blocks either part or all of the roadway. In the 
first instance, two lanes of traffic have to fight their way through one. In the 
second, traffic is turned off into the busy wilderness known as a detour. The 
detour road, it seems, is never as good as the regular road. Even if the detour 
has adequate width, cars are inevitably slowed down due to one reason or 
another, which soon affects those far back along the regular road. It is only 
temporary, but it is a bottleneck just the same. 

Type three might be termed the "big building bottleneck." A department 
store in a crowded section of town prospers. After it has added escalators and 
sub-basements, it takes on extra stories and a series of annexes. On the morn- 
ings of special sales, there is a pedestrian queue outside the building all around 
the block. Twice as many customers are entering the store as did five years 
ago. In that period the number of trucks backing up to the receiving entrances 


has doubled. Likewise the number of delivery trucks. 
But during all this growth, no change has been made 
in the street pattern around the store. The streets re- 
tain the same form and capacity as they did five years 
ago when the store did half as much business. 

Type four, by now renowned in song and story, is 
the "stadium bottleneck." It occurs in short but fre- 
quent and very dramatic periods on Saturday after- 
noons, holidays, and special occasions around such 
places of pilgrimage as the Yale Bowl, Soldier Field, 
or the Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles. At three 
o'clock a hundred thousand people are herding toward 
a flag-topped amphitheater. At five o'clock they are 
herding out of it. The stadium has been designed for 
just such mass movement. It is usually emptied, with- 
out fuss or casualty, within fifteen minutes after the 
final whistle. But the roads around it were not de- 
signed for such movement. Los Angeles may say that 
since the University doesn't pay taxes on its land there 
is no reason why citizens should spend millions to make 
the football fans comfortable. In the meantime, the 
answer to a hundred thousand people is a hundred 
traffic cops. This type of bottleneck could have been 
prevented by good planning when the approaches were 
built. The traffic problem around the stadium is as 
much a pedestrian one as a motor car problem. A bot- 
tleneck does not merely apply to motor cars. A street 
in a large city, that passes a public school from which 



thousands of children surge forth twice daily, is a very dangerous bottleneck. 

Everyone has his own favorite roadway funnel. Like the fisherman boast- 
ing of his catch, he may be inclined to gloat sardonically over the length of the 
stream of cars trying to get through that particular edge of hell. The high- 
pressure commuters of Westchester County, New York, have a regional 
record in the bottleneck at Fleetwood, where the four-lane artery connecting 
two great new parkways suddenly humps, drops down a steep grade, and 
corkscrews into a two-lane bridge spanning the New York Central tracks. 
What makes this contender for the questionable record dramatic is that traffic 
approaching it comes upon it unexpectedly, after having become accustomed 
to miles of easy high-speed highway travel. The traffic which had gradually 
loosened up and spread out is suddenly telescoped, jamming and sputtering on 
the steep grades to the bridgehead almost in the character of a camel trying 
to push through the eye of a needle. 

There is no use going on classifying. The engineering features of the Hol- 
land Tunnel are excellent, as has been previously pointed out; its service dur- 
ing moderate traffic conditions is adequate; but due to its multiple approaches 
it also is a perfect bottleneck. The cause here was high engineering costs. 
Removal of natural barriers involved such immense expenditure that it was 

decided to keep the tun- 

TWENTY-SEVEN LANES TRYING TO GET INTO TWO LANES Port of New York Authority ne j c J QWn tQ a tWQ J ane 

system. But the lanes that 
approach it do not add up 
to two. They are so many 
in number and capacity 
that at peak hours they 
develop a volume of traf- 
fic that cannot be com- 

pressed into the tunnel without considerable delay and confusion. 

One of the most common forms of bottleneck occurs at bridgeheads and 
is essentially the same as that created at the tunnel entrance. At the fag end 
of holidays or week-ends, almost everyone has been exposed time after time, 
summer after summer, to that most dismal of all motoring experiences: driv- 
ing back to the city across a bridge. It need not be a drawbridge, where delay 
can be understood. It may be a big suspension bridge which is inadequate to 
handle its traffic. While you are still miles away, the car ahead of you and the 
cars ahead of that, on and on to the unseen bridge, slow down. You drive as 
close together as freight cars, though not as fast as the slowest freight. It is not 
driving. Hopelessly often, it is a dead halt. There is no splendor in the sunset. 
All the fun is drained out of the holiday. You are numbed to any emotion 
except exasperation. 

No one on the road seems to be getting anywhere. Fenders scrape, collars 
wilt and reaching the bridge becomes not a matter of minutes but of hours. 
There is no compensating pleasure once you come upon it, long after night- 
fall. Like every car ahead, you await your turn for this precious road space 
arched across the water. Other lines of traffic feed slowly in before you have 
a chance at it. Then, you are on the bridge. Harried drivers are still picking 
their opportunity to slip into a faster moving lane, despite warning signs to 
the contrary. Outgoing traffic is cut to a minimum, but still cars from the 
overcrowded incoming lanes encroach upon it. 

Just as the pace of highway development has not kept up with the pace of 
automobile development, so it is true that bridge development has not kept up 
with highway development. Most of America's tens of thousands of bridges 
were built in the era of slower traffic moving on a two-lane road. When the 
time came, the road was widened. Traffic sped up. But it wasn't such an easy 
matter to widen a bridge. Perhaps the bridge should have been replaced en- 


tirely. Maybe the Highway Commission couldn't afford such an item that 
year. The road was built, but the bridge was postponed. The result is that the 
high-speed traffic which has been flowing for miles along the highway sud- 
denly has to slow down at the bridgehead with the inevitable jam of cars 
approaching the bridge. 

The State of Indiana, for example, has not ignored the work of highway 
improvement. In the past few years it has widened 1800 miles of state high- 
way the major roads to 100 feet and the secondary roads to 80 feet. But 
the Chairman of its State Highway Commission complains that nearly 2000 
bridges and culverts along the system are so narrow that they alone cause great 
delay and many deaths each year. To replace them by adequate structures, he 
says, would cost- about 25 billion dollars. 

Just how the lag operates is shown by the story of the Queensboro Bridge, 
opened in 1909 to carry a fast-growing volume of traffic between midtown 
Manhattan and developments on Long Island. At first it had three lanes ; then 
two more were added. In 1931 an upper deck was opened, giving the bridge a 
total of seven lanes. This sounded like continual improvement. But at the 
same time there were repeated efforts to open up and spread out the bridge's 
approach plazas. While city officials were struggling with approach property 
and while the bridge was taking on a lane here and there, the lanes feeding the 
bridge were increasing at a much greater rate. Today there are, estimated con- 
servatively, six streets or twenty- four lanes on each side of the river. Easily 
more than fifty lanes of traffic feed into this bridge from both ends. The 
bridge has only seven lanes to cope with the situation. This is the situation to- 
day, and settlements are still rising by the hundreds on Long Island. The 
approach land, not bought in time, is now prohibitive in cost. The Queensboro 
Bridge will never be able to cope with this problem. 

Famous spans like this or the Eads Bridge at St. Louis were built to meet 


the conditions and requirements that prevailed at the time they were designed. 
Their designs did not anticipate the automotive era. Conditions have changed 
entirely. The old roadways which were built to meet those conditions have 
perhaps been replaced, but the bridges linger on because financially they 
obsolesce far more slowly than any other highway structure. It takes sixty to 
eighty years to amortize a bridge. The obvious conclusion is that bridges de- 
signed today should not be planned just for today's needs. They should take 
into consideration all the possible needs that may arise during their lifetime 

Underwood & Underwood 


a life that is likely to exceed the classically allotted three-score and ten. 

The Bay Bridge at San Francisco consists of two decks, with six lanes for 
high-speed automobile traffic on the top deck, and three lanes for bus and 
truck traffic on the lower deck, which is also designed to carry an electric 
railway line. But perhaps the key fact about the bridge is not the bridge itself 
but what happens before one gets to it. There are four and a half miles of 
approaches. They include ramps leading on and off, overpasses and underpasses 
to avoid intersecting traffic, and on the Oakland side a distribution system 
which goes beyond the modern cloverleaf pattern. The intention of the design- 




International News 

ers was to get an immense volume of traffic across the bridge quickly, without 
slowing down. In the first full year of operation, 9,109,349 vehicles made the 
crossing. Planning had worked. 

The Bay Bridge is not especially broad, as great spans go. There is a lesson 
in that. When one sees a congested bridge, one is likely to think the trouble 
is that it is too narrow; the real trouble is that it does not have enough lanes. 
The earliest covered bridges suggested the possibility of increasing the height 
of a bridge rather than its width. A two-decker bridge is a rarity in our midst. 
But there is no reason why we should be limited even to two decks. 

Bottlenecks within our highway system can only be eliminated or avoided 
by a comprehensive and long-range planning program. County-line bottle- 
necks would not occur if there were cooperative highway planning between 
adjoining counties. Detour bottlenecks would not exist if highway construc- 
tion undertakings were adequately planned before construction started, so as 
to provide adequate detour routes for the existing traffic on the highway 
under construction or under repair. Big building bottlenecks would not exist 
if there were adequate town and city planning programs, incorporating and 
making allowance for growth of the city and town, as well as increased traffic 
resulting from such growth. Stadium bottlenecks exist only because highway 
approaches were not planned in conjunction with the planning of the stadium, 
or the selection of the location for the stadium was not made with regard to 
the traffic facilities available. 

Bridges and tunnels across natural barriers to highway traffic are the most 
common type of bottleneck, and therefore the most flagrant example of lack 
of planning. Bridges built before the full magnitude of automobile traffic was 
foreseen become bottlenecks on the highway leading to the bridge when this 
highway is widened to carry a greater volume of traffic without, at the same 
time, widening or increasing the capacity of the bridge. Bridges and tunnels 



built since the automobile era have also, in many instances, been constructed 
without development of their approaches and the highways leading to them. 
Bridges for automobile traffic should be built to provide for expansion of 
the bridge itself that is, to provide for the construction of a greater number 
of lanes as traffic density increases. At the same time they should provide, in 

their plaza approaches 
and on the highways lead- 
ing to them, facilities for 
handling expansion of the 
approaching highways 
and the bridge-approach 

Here is a glimpse into 
the future twenty years 
from now, at a suspension 
bridge that carries a mo- 
torway across a wide river. 
The approach plaza where 
bridge traffic is collected 
and distributed reaches 
far from the bridge. There 
is no bridgehead conges- 
tion. The motorway is 
two-directional as it en- 
ters the approach plaza. 
Its design shows four 
fifty-mile lanes with sepa- 
rators; a grass strip; two 




^Hi^ ^mfiiL 

*% I 

seventy-five-mile lanes with separators; a grass strip; and a hundred-mile 
lane. On this motorway, cars are traveling toward the bridge. 

On a similar seven-lane road, and separated from this one by a grass strip, 
are cars traveling in the opposite direction. As this double motorway ap- 
proaches a town feeder boulevard running at right angles to it, the hundred- 
and seventy-five-mile 
lanes start on a rising 
grade with the roadway 
carried on columns. The 
fifty-mile lanes are gradu- 
ally drawn in to take a 
position under the high- 
speed lanes forming a 
two-tier viaduct that 
overpasses the feeder 
boulevard. The town 
feeder has eight lanes of 
fifty-mile traffic moving 
in opposite directions. As 
the traffic nears the mo- 
torway, the two outside 
lanes make a right turn 
on a radius that will allow 

a fifty-mile undiminished 3 LANES 

speed, ramp up and enter 
below the two-tier struc- 
ture to form a third tier. 





Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison ' 

verse procedure occurs and cars 
come from the bridge on two 
lanes turning left and ramping 
down to form a two-lane strip 
along the town feeder. On the 
opposite side of the motorway, 
similar provisions are made for 
traffic approaching from that 

The approach structure takes 
shape as a three-tier viaduct; 
eight fifty-mile lanes on the 
lower level, eight fifty-mile 
lanes on the middle level, and 
four seventy-five-mile and two 
hundred-mile lanes on the top 
level. It continues ramping up; 
now it crosses a second town 
feeder boulevard. More cars 
are gathered in by the same sys- 
tem as before. Still the struc- 
ture rises: now it consists of 
four tiers. All the time each 
lane preserves its own integrity. 
No one cuts in. No one fears 

collision. No one slows down. Traffic moves without delay. 

This bridge with its huge stainless steel towers is designed to allow for 

expansion. The towers are not double piers. They are single masts. Four tiers 



Norman Bel Geddes, 1935 

of highway run one above the 
other, keeping the bridge rela- 
tively narrow. The need for 
cross-bracing is reduced. Half 
of the traffic lanes hang out- 
side the great spires on canti- 
levered supports. Only those 
lanes necessary immediately 
need be built at first, then as 
more are required they are 
added. The original structure 
is designed to accommodate it- 
self to such expansion. The lanes 
head across the span. It is not 
obvious to the driver when he 
leaves it, for the distributing 
plaza at the other end merely 
continues the shape and speed 
of the lanes. The bridge is not 
a special structure that inter- 
rupts the motorway. It has not 
been tinkered with or lamely 
widened to meet the toll of 
traffic. It has been built along 
the lines of one unified and elo- 
quent principle: to provide full road width and full road speed at every point 
along the highway. 

No bottleneck is ever created intentionally. In fact, the cause for the bottle- 





L :- 



Futurama Photo by General Motors 

neck is probably the only cause in the world which can find no defenders. 
Therefore, it is not enough simply to point out that bottlenecks should not 
exist; it is not enough to point an accusing finger at a flagrant example and 
say that it is a flagrant example. Once a road is built, the points along it where 
congestion occur are only too obvious. The trick is to ascertain these points in 
advance, to prevent them. Therefore, any road, before it is built, should be 






Norman Bel Geddes, 1935 


analyzed in regard to all its possible future uses. The highway designer must 
determine what kinds of traffic will be using the road, at what point on the 
road the greatest number of cars will get on it, and where most of the cars 
will want to get off. It is possible to determine this by thorough traffic surveys 
and by population analysis. Elimination of bottlenecks can be achieved 
through intelligent, far-sighted planning in advance of road construction. 



HEN a man ventured forth at night through the streets of eighteenth 
century London or New York, he carried a lantern to light the way between 
puddles and pitfalls. If he was a member of the "gentry" he hired a boy to 
carry the lantern for him. When, in the following century, a coal miner 
reached the bottom of the shaft and began his way through dark wet tunnels, 
he lit the light fixed to his helmet. Both Victorian miner and Georgian city- 
reveller found the lantern perfectly suited to their purpose; as they groped 
and twisted, the light twisted with them. 

In 1940 people are still groping around with lanterns. The only difference 
is that now they are hung on the front of a car or truck, and the rate of grop- 
ing through the darkness is between thirty and sixty miles an hour. Of course, 
this lantern is a good deal brighter than its ancestors so bright, in fact, that 
it succeeds in blinding anyone driving toward it. It blinds him so effectively 
that after its flash has passed, it takes his eye almost a minute to readjust itself 
to darkness, during which time, still half-blind, he may be traveling as much 
as half a mile. It is a most diabolically effective instrument. 



To a greater or lesser degree everyone is 
blind at night. Too much light is as bad as too 
little. Headlights are not bright enough to 
light the road ahead but too bright for the 
approaching driver. The shift from darkness 
to brilliance and back again is too swift. 
Twenty years ago, visibility distance with au- 
tomobile headlights on light-colored dry roads 
was from 200 to 250 feet. On dark or wet 
roads, the visibility was virtually nil. Today, 
while great advances have been made in the 
construction of cars, and great increases in 
their speed, the visibility of headlights has not 
greatly changed. Driving at a speed of more 
than 40 miles an hour on an unlighted high- 
way, even though the road be dry, the night 
clear and the high-beam headlights burning brightly, the driver might just 
as well be blindfolded so far as his visibility is related to the speed of his car. 
Add to this the fact that when the car is rounding a curve, its headlights point 
diagonally off, missing the roadside entirely and sometimes reducing the visi- 
bility to 5 feet, increasing the driver's blindness still more. 

If automobile headlights comply with all legal requirements, they will en- 
able a driver to pick out a dark object on an unlighted road only about 150 
feet ahead of him. The Police Department of Pasadena, California, became 
very much interested in this fact. Their research taught them that a car driv- 
ing at 60 miles an hour could under no circumstances be stopped in less than 
200 feet. This established the possibility that if a pedestrian was crossing the 
path of a car moving at 60 miles an hour and if he was 150 feet ahead of it, he 


Underwood & Underwood 

would be dragged 5 feet before the car came -j 


to a stop. This would happen even if the^ 

driver applied his brakes the instant he sawj 

him, and even if his brakes were working per- 

In general, public authorities studying the 
problem of night accidents have paid rela- 
tively scant attention to the darkness factor. 
They have accepted the increase in traffic 
fatalities as being the result of more cars and 
greater speed. This seems a logical assumption 
until one breaks down the totals of fatalities 
into daylight accidents and night accidents. 
Then one finds an astonishing fact. In 1937 
automobile accidents caused more deaths than 
fires, typhoid, diphtheria, railroads, airplanes, BUT 21,900 AUTOISTS DIED AT NIGHT IN A YEAR 

and ships all put together. They numbered 39,700. Of this total, 23,800 peo- 
ple were killed at night. This would be understandable if by far the greater 
volume of traffic moved at night. But as everyone knows, it doesn't. Only 
about one-third of all motor traffic moves at night. And yet two-thirds of all 
fatal motor accidents occur at night. 

Accident figures emphasize that not only are there more accidents by night 
than by day, but that the severity of night-time accidents is far greater than 
that of daytime accidents. One in every forty-nine daytime motor vehicle 
injuries proves fatal. But at night there is one death for every twenty-six 
injuries. Furthermore, this discrepancy gets greater every year. In the period 
from 1930 to 1937 inclusive, there was a 2 per cent decline in daytime 
accident deaths, while there was an increase of almost 30 per cent in night- 


m~ itp 



time fatalities. These figures point to an obvious conclusion. Whereas efforts 
have been made and are being made to improve conditions of daytime driving, 
little has been done to overcome the greater hazards of the road at night. 

It is significant, too, that the greatest number of fatalities occurs between 
the hours of 5 P.M. and 8 P.M. During these hours in winter, when the 
night falls quickly, more than twice as many deaths occur as in summer when 
the light lingers. This is in spite of the fact that the traffic volume during this 
hour in summer is apt to be greater than it is during the same hour in winter. 
Darkness itself, then, must be the hazard-creating element. It is true that at 
night there are a greater number of fatigued, intoxicated or irresponsible 
drivers. It is also true that there is a heavier component of large commercial 
vehicles in the traffic stream. But the main fact is that night creates an en- 
tirely different kind of traffic. A new relationship is established between driver 
and highway. When the sun goes down there is no change in the car or the 
road, or, necessarily, the driver or the weather. But there is the change from 
light to darkness, all-important because it makes the driver orient himself to 
an entirely new set of conditions. 

[ 128 ] 

For instance, it has been established that for a driver traveling at 50 miles 
an hour, safety requires that he have unobstructed vision for at least 575 feet 
ahead. Yet when that driver is placed upon that road at night, without lights 
along the way and only his own headlights to go by, his maximum visibility is 
about 200 feet, and a set of headlights coming down the highway from the 
opposite direction even if they are very low in intensity reduces the driv- 
er's perception, already dangerously limited, by 60 per cent. 

Obviously what is lacking is proper lighting. The remedy usually offered 
is to illuminate the highways themselves, so that drivers will not have to de- 
pend on automobile headlights. But even highway lighting is not necessarily 
proper lighting. If it is incorrect in design or inadequate in strength and this 
is the case on most highways which have been lighted so far it creates still 
another danger factor. 

A lighted street is safer than an unlighted one. But during what period 
should a highway be lit? In the British Empire there is a law that specifies a 
moment called "lighting-up time" which varies from day to day in accord- 
ance with the sun's disappearance. A small English town, apparently eager 
to augment this ruling, hung upon its lampposts a curfew regulation which 
ended with the following ironic definition of darkness: "It is dark when the 
street lights are on." 

Except near the equator where night conies suddenly, there is a considerable 
interval between sundown and night. Darkness comes gradually. One's eyes 
become adjusted to the increasing dimness of vision. Only after the street 
lights are on does one look up with a dazzled start and realize that darkness 
is coming in earnest. This dazzlement does not come from any notable con- 
trast between twilight and the daylight that preceded it. The realization that 
it is dark comes from the contrast between the bright spot of the lamplight 
itself and the comparative darkness around it. 


The type of lamp and standard used on those highways which are actually 
lighted today has been copied from the types traditionally used on city streets. 
But just as the light on the "great white ways" of American cities is no longer 
white, but a confusion of flickering commercial signs of every known hue, 
so the hopeful attempt to illuminate highways with lofty standards has be- 
come rather tangled up in the maze of roadside floodlights, neon lights, lunch- 
wagon lights, traffic lights, and flashing headlights. How haphazard the think- 
ing behind conventional highway illumination is, is suggested by the way 
many highway lighting systems are administered. Until midnight or i A.M. 
there is fairly adequate illumination. Then, suddenly, the whole system is 
switched off. Traffic has not stopped. No curfew has rung. There are plenty of 
people who have to go on driving for the rest of the night the doctor on an 
emergency call, the through tourist, the long-distance truckman, the late 
home-comer but they get no help. The reason given for the shutdown is, of 

course, economy. But that doesn't make it 
any easier or safer for the man who happens 
to be on the road at 1:05 A.M rather than 
12:55 A.M. 

A great deal of experimenting is being done 
on new types of lamps for highway lighting. 
Most important of these are the sodium vapor 
lamps and the mercury vapor lamps. And al- 
though these lamps have not yet reached per- 
fection, they are from an engineering stand- 
point a step in the right direction and have 
much to recommend them. They are both 
more penetrating and more economical than 
regular lights. One of their drawbacks, how- 


General Electric 


ever, is that the eerie pallor which they give to the highway scene is decidedly 
unpleasant to the motorist. Rapid progress is also being made in improving 
the efficiency of the incandescent filament type of lamp. New incandescent 
lamps of high intensity, supplemented by improved reflectors lining the 
luminaire, are already in use, a notable example of which is found on New 
Jersey's White Horse Pike. Sodium vapor and mercury vapor have also been 
combined with incandescent lamps to form a new fluorescent type of light. 
As compared with regular incandescent lamps, the sodium vapor lamps give 
nearly three times as much light for the amount of electricity used. In New 
Jersey, accidents have been cut in half where sodium light has been employed. 
This type of lighting was first used in 1933, and is especially effective for 
wide streets because it distributes its light broadly. 

In addition to direct lighting methods, there are in use today several 
types of indirect lighting systems, consisting of large reflector buttons which 
do not have a light source of their own but which reflect back upon the high- 
way the light from approaching headlamps. They outline the road for a 
mile ahead except at curves or where they are obstructed. Their great virtue 

General Electric 


lies in the fact that they define a roadway at no cost whatever other than that 
of installation. They are not intended to replace highway lights, but simply 
to supplement them. The most recently developed reflector buttons are ap- 
proximately eight times more powerful than any previously used. 

Not only are experiments being made with different types of lighting, but 
also with the manner of their installation. The lighting system installed on the 
upper deck of a double-decked viaduct in Cincinnati consists of lighting units 
placed in the balustrade of the viaduct which throw their light horizontally 
across the road surface from both sides, rather than down on the surface from 
high above. 

Lack of uniformity among state laws on intensity of headlights, their loca- 
tion and their general characteristics makes progress in the correction of the 
problem difficult. Obviously there can be no great advancement in practical 
lighting until the authorities get together and agree. It may be found necessary 
to set up a central body, such as the Bureau of Standards, to arrive at a unified 
control of this universal problem. Under today's system of local responsibility 
for lighting, there is apt to be needless duplication of research and study by 
people inadequately equipped for such a large task. A centralizing agency 
could collect and coordinate the scattered research on the subject, test new 
methods, and recommend modern types of lighting after sufficiently broad 
experimentation had proved their merit. 

Scientific experimentation has recently resulted in the perfection of a new 
material for use in automobile headlight lenses and in automobile windshields 
which promises great improvement in efficient highway illumination by head- 
lights without corresponding headlight glare. This material, called Polaroid, 
was developed by Edwin H. Land, in 1934. It is a flexible, transparent film 
that in appearance somewhat resembles cellophane. This material acts to comb 
out or regiment the light which passes through it, so that the light which has 



Portland Cement Association 



Underwood & Underwoc 

been transmitted through it vibrates in only one plane, whereas normally light 
vibrates in all planes. This type of light is called polarized light, and has been 
known to science for over 200 years. However, this property of light could 
not be made use of commercially until the introduction of Polaroid, because 
of the excessive cost of materials existing for the purpose of polarizing light. 
The great advantage of Polaroid is in the fact that it can be produced prac- 
tically and economically on a commercial scale. 

In a beam of light such as that from a normal automobile headlight waves 
are vibrating in every plane along the beam. However, replace the headlight 
lens with a sheet of polarized material, and its crystals will comb out all of the 
vibrations except those vibrating in a particular plane. The beam of light 
which has passed through the polarized material will then have light vibra- 
tions in only one plane. Then take a second sheet of the polarized material and 
place it in the path of light that has passed through the first. If its crystals are 
parallel to those of the first sheet, the light will get through. If they are at 
right angles, the light will be stopped. 

This characteristic of polarized light is made use of in the automobile in the 
following way: a piece of polarized material is sandwiched between layers of 
glass from the headlight lens of the automobile. This is so placed that the light 
passing through it is vibrating in a plane at 45 degrees to the road. Then a 
similar piece is made a part of the windshield of the car, and oriented in such 
a way that when two cars approach each other along a highway the plane of 
the polarized light from the headlights of one car is at right angles to the 
polarized plane provided by the windshield of the opposing car. Therefore the 
rays of light from the opposing car cannot pass through the windshield of 
the approaching car, and the headlights, instead of glaring at the driver, ap- 
pear as a very faint glow indicating merely the position of the oncoming 
automobile. At the same time, all of the light from both cars which is still on 


the road surface clearly illuminates the surface and makes it visible as if no 
other car were approaching. The headlights themselves appear only as faint 
disks, dim but clearly discernible. With this abolition of glare comes freedom 
from the usual partial blindness that occurs while two cars are passing. 

Of course there is no point in installing polarized material in one car unless 
it is installed in other cars as well. The effectiveness of this material depends 
entirely on the passage of a national law. It cannot be applied locally. 

A special aspect of the science of lighting is the study of color. First there 
is the color of the road surface. Everyone who drives at night has experienced 
the sense of relief that occurs on changing from a black macadam road surface 
to light gray concrete. The difference is that the concrete has far higher light- 
reflecting power. Its light background causes objects to stand out in bold 
relief for a longer distance ahead. Then there is the color of the illumination. 
Experimental tests are now being conducted with lights that have a green tint. 
White light, because of its tendency to produce glare, is by no means ideal for 
the human eye. 

These studies and experiments for improved highway lighting, improved 
headlight illumination and improved road and light colors all tend to relieve 
the highway illumination problem. But the basic problem is much greater than 
any of these aspects of it would indicate. The solution can only be obtained 
by a broad outlook at the whole problem of highway lighting. 

On most present-day highways there is either a total absence of light or 
the kind of lighting that belongs to pre-motor days. The tall handsome lamp- 
posts that are still set up along the highways seem like sentimental relics of 
those days. They look a good deal like old-fashioned domestic bridge lamps. 
It is not necessary that a bridge lamp light up a whole room. It must simply 
give strong illumination over the book or game on which eyes are focused. The 
current highway bridge lamp does the same thing. It gives brilliant patches 


General Electric 


of light which alternate with dark areas. Its patches, true enough, are very 
brilliant. They have to be. If you hang your light way up, you have to make 
it intense. But the consequence is simple and eloquent: it is glare again. 

It is a commonplace, but it bears repeating: everyone is agreed that the best 
lighting is daylight. That has a corollary. In daylight the vertical objects on 
the road are dark compared with the light surface of the road. Thus, in order 
to get the best conditions on the road at night as well, the objects should be 
left dark, and the horizontal surface lit up. 

The problem of keeping a highway continuously illuminated after night- 
fall is one of cost. But the cost of lighting highways is a comparatively small 
fraction of their expense. And the results of lighting are greater use of exist- 
ing roadways, increased speed of night driving and substantial savings in life 
and property. 

In the next twenty years, immense progress is going to be made to eliminate 
the old hazard of night driving. Cars will still have headlights, of course, to 
be used on minor roads, but these will probably utilize the advantages of 
polarized light. Motorways will be lit. But their illumination will be entirely 


re-studied, not only regarding the equipment itself, but regarding the location 
of the equipment. Lights will be brought down out of their bridge-lamp eleva- 
tion and placed closer to the highway surface where their lights may be more 
effectively used, illuminating the road itself rather than the upper ether. 
Lights will be so located that they do not shine into the eyes of drivers. 

Consider briefly what might prove to be the ideally lit motorway of the 
future. A long banner of illumination lies ahead. You don't see the continuous 
strip of tubular lights which has been set along the lanes below the driver's 
eye level. There is no glare. An even distribution of light covers the road sur- 
face. All the headlights of cars are out. Your eyes are never assaulted. Even 
the color of the light has been selected to relieve eyestrain. There is no more 
huddling together toward the center of the road. Drivers do no more blinking 
and groping. 

And, late at night, when traffic flow is diminished, the highway still isn't 


Norman Bel Geddes, 1938 



dark and treacherous. Although the system of lights goes off, it doesn't go 
off according to an arbitrary time schedule, but only for as long as the road- 
way is unused. The approach of a car causes an automatic device to turn on 
the lights ahead for a prescribed distance. Lights continuously turn on before 
each car. Behind the car, the lights turn off until another car approaches. No 
meters in the powerhouse are ticking off the cost of their operation when lights 
are not needed. When the motorway is filled to capacity, it is illuminated over 
its entire length. But when there is a smaller amount of traffic flow, if the space 
between the cars is greater than the standard distance, there is a dark unil- 
luminated space behind each car. 

Over and beyond its efficiency, the system also provides advantages that are 
likely to be overlooked by pleasure drivers. These advantages result in in- 
creased efficiency of night trucking, the economic importance of which is 
growing every year. Night trucking has to operate under many difficulties. 
That a nationwide highway lighting system would not only expedite this 
traffic but also considerably increase it, is not to be doubted. Thus on the new 
motorway there is full use and at the same time there is economy. There is 
no wasting of electricity. Also there is not the wasting of time and road invest- 
ment that comes from inadequately lighted highways. There is not the wast- 
ing of property. There is not the wasting of human life. 

The time will come when night driving will be regarded as actually more 
pleasant than driving in the daytime. For the light of the sun is variable and 
capricious. No one can control its direction or its intensity. But at night the 
automatic devices of the road will supply an ideal control of light. After all, 
it is not a revolutionary dream to take lights down off the poles. There is no 
special witchcraft in the idea of driving along a highway through a self- 
induced flood of light. These things can be done. There is no reason for drivers 
to go on being slaves at night when they could so easily be masters. 




I HE first transcontinental trips by automobile brought no great improve- 
ment in running time. In 1903, Sewell K. Croker left San Francisco in a two- 
cylinder Winton and after two months and two days he arrived in New York. 
The drivers who followed his pioneering example also took about two months. 

As long-distance travel by car developed, it was seen that adequate motor 
roads were a necessity. A better-roads movement, which later developed into 
the Lincoln Highway Association, was founded in 1912 by Carl G. Fisher, 
maker of the Prest-O-Lite system of headlights. In order to dramatize this 
need, Mr. Fisher joined an automobile tour to the Pacific Coast, using a jumble 
of unmarked roads. The party's cars had to be shoveled out along the way and 
coaxed over the steep grades. Mr. Fisher described one of the culminating 
experiences which convinced him of the need for adequate roads as follows: 
"One night, overtaken by darkness and a drenching rain, I lost my way some 
nine miles from Indianapolis. At a fork in the road, my car's headlights re- 
vealed the base of a road sign, but the sign itself was too high to read. I shinnied 
up the sign pole, struck a match and read the sign. It directed me to 'Chew 


Battle- Ax Plug!' " Armed with this useful information, he continued his trip. 

In the specifications for a model section of road drawn up by the Lincoln 
Highway Association in 1920 many sound principles were formulated. Two 
of them bear rather directly on Mr. Fisher's agile ascent of the chewing- 
tobacco sign pole. They are: 1. "The section should be lighted." 2. "Advertis- 
ing signs should be prohibited along the right of way." Seven years later, 
the Lincoln Highway between New York and San Francisco was completed 
and, for the first time, motor cars could travel across the continent on one 

The Lincoln Highway falls lamentably short of the needs of motor trans- 
port today. The standard right of way advocated in its specifications is 1 1 
feet wide. Over one half of its length, it is only a two-lane road. With the ex- 
ception of a strip in Nebraska, the road is entirely paved, but most of the 
paved section is macadam rather than concrete. It is not really a continuous 
highway but a composite of many highways pieced together. These pieces 
include spurs, old junctions, a cross-patch of trails and communicating roads, 
and they pass through 110 cities and 200 towns during their 3056 miles. The 
Highway was designed to be used by cars operating at a speed of 3 5 miles an 
hour and by trucks at 1 miles an hour. Few long-distance drivers today care 
to drive that slowly. 

The failure of the Lincoln Highway is due to lack of vision that did not 
allow for any substantial improvement in the motor car. It was not primarily, 
however, a lack of vision on the part of the people who got the Highway built ; 
it was a lack of vision on the part of the people who opposed it. To get the 
road through at all was a very difficult problem. 

To operate profitably on long-distance hauling, truck drivers must main- 
tain 40 or more miles an hour. It is not surprising that they find inadequate 
for their needs a road designed for average truck speed of 1 miles an hour, 


and interrupted at intervals of every half mile or so by crossroads. What could 
show the high mortality of highways more clearly than the fact that a road 
only twelve years old is already a relic of the era when trucks were required 
to creep along at 10 miles an hour? 

Besides the Lincoln Highway, three other main transcontinental routes 
exist, the Sante Fe Trail which parallels in part the old wagon road through 
the Raton Pass in New Mexico, the Broadway of America which is a scenic 
route from New York passing through Washington, D.C., to San Diego, and 
the Yellowstone Route which runs from Chicago to the National Park in 
Wyoming. The shortest distance from coast to coast is 2935 miles from New 
York to Los Angeles by the Sante Fe and Will Rogers Highways. 

In addition to these major transcontinental roads, there are a great many 
other motor roads which the transcontinental traveler can use. There are one 
hundred and seventeen numbered routes running east and west for varying 
distances, and one hundred and seven numbered routes between the nation's 
northern and southern boundaries. The nomenclature adopted for national 
highways gives odd numbers to routes running north and south, such as U.S. 
Highway Number One along the Atlantic seaboard. Even-numbered routes 
run east and west, as U.S. Highway Number Two, from Eastern Maine to 
Glacier Park in Northwest Montana. From Rouses' Point, New York, to Sault 
Ste. Marie on the northern peninsula of Michigan there is a gap in this U.S. 
Highway, for the shortest distance between these two points lies over 
Canadian roads. 

An official road guide book of 1915 grew lyrical in its attempts to lure 
motorists westward to the San Francisco World's Fair over the macadamized 
turnpikes of the East, the fair-weather roads of the Middle West and the 
natural gravel of Wyoming. The hazards of travel near Fish Springs, Utah, 
certainly did not frighten the writer of the guide book: "If trouble is experi- 


enced, build a sagebrush fire. Mr. Thomas will come with a team. He can see 
you 20 miles off." John Thomas was an honest man. He had a fixed price. 
It did not matter whether one or four cars were stuck in the mud; he would 
haul all of them out for the same price ten dollars. Mr. Thomas, however, 
abhorred arguments, and he always had the last word. If the captive motorists 
ventured to dispute the fee, Mr. Thomas merely raised it to twenty or twenty- 
five dollars. These were roads which, as Mr. Crocker had demonstrated twelve 
years before, could be traversed by automobile. But they were certainly not 
roads designed to facilitate motor travel. 

Even today, in cars that can go 70 miles an hour, many motorists take 
ten days to cross the continent. It is not a question of straight transcontinental 
travel only. The same conditions exist on north-south routes, or on any long 
inter-city routes. The 1940 motor car is capable of carrying goods or pas- 
sengers at sustained speeds on extremely long trips. Yet only a very small 
percentage of trucks or passenger cars in the United States is driven on long 
trips. Drivers are not deterred by lack of faith in their cars. But it costs too 
much in time, money and energy to do a long-distance automobile run in 
the country today. Undoubtedly you or friends of yours have made the trip 
from coast to coast by car. You will have noticed that the highways along 
which you drive are by no means the undeviating ways indicated by the deli- 
cate lines on the nation's road maps. They are merely connecting links from 
one town to another which, if followed with sufficient diligence and reference 


Brown Bros. 

to road maps, bring you eventually to the coast. Even with two or more 
drivers relieving each other to keep the car moving night and day, it is not 
possible to make the trip by car as quickly as by train. Average time for the 
trip by motor is longer than by rail chiefly because the highways used also 
serve local traffic, which has a very different pace and purpose from that of the 
cross-country driver. 

From an inquisitive tourist's point of view, there may be possible advan- 
tages in zigzagging one's way from coast to coast, and coming in contact with 
a maximum number of one's fellow citizens en route. However, few cross- 
country drivers who have made the trip, either for business or pleasure, express 
this sentiment. Travel by road, especially in the case of merchandise, ought to 
have many superiorities over any other kind of travel. The car and the truck 
are both capable of sustained high speeds. The pleasure car is under the driver's 
individual control, thus eliminating the irksome necessity of conforming to 
prearranged schedules and routes. And as for merchandise, one pound of truck 
will haul two pounds of freight, while in order to haul the same two pounds 
of freight on the railroad, it takes eight pounds of freight car. 

Engineers could readily 
design trucks, buses and 
passenger cars to operate 
at 100 miles an hour, if 
proper roads were avail- 
able for their use. At such 
speed, the trip from Chi- 
cago to San Francisco 
could be made in about 
eighteen hours. If new 
routes are to be planned 

Margaret Bourke-White 






today, they should not become obsolete in another twenty years. Therefore 
designers should think in terms of highways that can be safely used even at 
100 miles an hour. Such highways are possible. From the motorist's point of 
view, the idea of driving at such speed, even with safety, is not yet especially 
popular, but to no one today does it seem as fantastic, immoral or suicidal as 
driving at 5 miles an hour seemed to buggy drivers two generations ago. In 
those days, trains ran through the countryside as fast as the average motor car 
does today. Now airplanes carrying passengers at 200 miles an hour are com- 
monplace. And yet the same argument persists that was advanced by the 
driver who whipped up old Dobbin saying, "Anyone who drives faster than 
I do is driving too fast. A body can't stand it." 

It is just as short-sighted for people today to say that cars should not drive 
at 100 miles an hour as it was of George Washington's physician to warn him 
that anyone driving over 1 5 miles an hour would inevitably die of heart- 
failure. Incidentally, George Washington was never in danger on this account. 
Average stagecoach speed on his travels was 4 miles an hour. 

The sensation of speed is relative. No family now driving in a closed car, on 
a smooth straight road at 5 miles an hour, experiences the sensation of wind- 
blown, dust-raising dare-deviltry which made the family group in a 1910 
open-model Buick hold on for their lives, as the car achieved a nerve- and 
spine-racking burst of speed at 1 2 miles an hour over a rutted roadway. 

In 1848, the railroad revolutionized man's concept of speed. A train burn- 
ing pine knots ran from Boston to Lawrence, Massachusetts, in twenty-six 
minutes, at the hitherto unheard-of speed of a mile a minute. This was not an 
ordinary passenger run but a demonstration. The daring newspaper reporters 
who made the trip "commended themselves to God, and were lying down on 
the floor where the chance of survival seemed better." It took a week to repair 
the tracks after this venture, but the concept of a "mile a minute" immedi- 



ately became firmly established in the popular 
imagination as top speed. This popular con- 
cept became an incentive to faster travel. To- 
day it is as antiquated a measure for top speed 
as was the 10-mile-an-hour pace at which 
the first automobile race was run. 

Early in 1939, H. Lloyd Child, test pilot, 
exceeded all known speed records in a dive of 
more than 575 miles an hour, starting at an 
altitude of 22,000 feet. No one proposes to 
drive an automobile that fast, though John 
Cobb has driven a racing car at 368 miles an 
hour, which is faster than a shell shot from 
a mortar. In an airplane, speed is a safety 
factor: it is speed which increases the airplane's ability to sustain itself. On 
today's highways, because of the ever-present chance of coming into contact 
with another vehicle or a stationary object, speed translates itself into a danger 
factor. But in 1960, 100 miles an hour will seem no faster than the motor 
speeds which we now take for granted. 

To convert all American roads into high-speed superhighways would be 
both impracticable and undesirable. But a certain number of motorways 
where safe, fast driving and an uninterrupted trip would be possible are never- 
theless an immediate need. By stimulating the use of motor vehicles, such new 
motorways would amply pay the cost of construction and would serve as 
models for the future. For centuries we were content with springless wagons. 
Is that a reason why we should continue to put up with slow roads? 

Imagine a man who wants to drive from the Atlantic Coast to California, 
not on pleasure bent nor on one of the fancier varieties of business, but in dead 


earnest on a plain job. Say he drives a truck. He has some highly perishable 
freight to transport. It has to get across the country quickly. It's nothing 
more nor less than twelve barrels of oysters that have been hauled out of 
Chesapeake Bay the day the season opened. The jobber in California can't wait 
for rail transport. He can't pay for air transport. So he is dependent on high- 
speed trucking. 

At 5:15 in the afternoon, with the trailer loaded, the truckman and his 
relief driver climb aboard. From the oyster pier the route lies over the im- 
proved secondary highways which serve as feeders to the motorway. Twenty- 
five miles outside Washington they pick up the motorway feeder lanes, built as 
a unit with the motorway and having the same construction and design char- 
acteristics. As the truck bears to the right from the secondary highway at the 
feeder point and enters the feeder lane, the driver immediately feels the auto- 
matic car control take effect. As it approaches the motorway on a long sweep- 
ing curve, the car automatically accelerates to a steady 5 miles an hour, ready 
to merge with the continuous flow of traffic on the through lane. For a mo- 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

ment, the truck parallels the motorway on the feeder lane and then is auto- 
matically slipped into a gap in the outside of the four lanes provided for 50- 
mile traffic. There was a break in the automatically spaced line of cars which 
allowed him to enter. Otherwise the speed control on the feeder lane would 
have held the car back until a space was available. A slight delay wouldn't 
have bothered the driver greatly because he knows that once he is on the 
motorway there is never any delay. This delay would mean no more to him 
than that which an airplane pilot experiences when, after taking off, his plane 
climbs carefully and slowly to the desired altitude before getting up full 
speed. As a transatlantic steamer makes slow progress leaving New York 
harbor until it reaches the open sea lanes, it may sometimes be necessary for a 
car going on a long journey on the motorway to encounter a short delay be- 
fore reaching the uninterrupted high-speed lanes. 

Ahead of the truck, the motorway is bathed in an even glow of light; car 
headlights are extinguished; the driver can't help wondering how he ever 
found his way about in the dark benighted era when each car carried angry, 
stabbing lamps that blinded the other fellow. As he speeds along on a straight- 
line course, cutting through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies, 
he can feel the control mechanism of the motorway maintaining his truck in 
its lane. The nearest car in his lane is 1 5 feet away. On the right lies a wide 
right-of-way strip, beautifully landscaped. On the left, alongside the fourth 
lane, is a wide strip of grass beyond which he sees two more lanes of cars rush- 
ing past. They are the 7 5 -mile-per-hour lanes. Beyond that, with another 
wide grass strip intervening, is the single 100-mile lane. The foliage of trees 
and shrubs conceals a similar eastbound right of way paralleling this west- 
bound one. All types of motorized vehicles use this motorway heavy trucks 
like the oyster dealer's, small farm trucks carrying produce to market, trailer 
trucks similar to a Diesel train, large and small passenger cars, tourist trailers, 




double-decked transcontinental buses with comfortable lounge space. All 
move steadily and easily, without dust, danger or delay. 

The driver presses a button on the instrument panel which will maneuver 
him into the 7 5 -mile lane at the first opportunity. All the way across the 
country there is no danger of sideswiping or bumping or of intersections. 
The whole thing is managed by automatic car control. Later on, he shifts into 
the 100-mile lane. 

He has a lot of time to look around. He notices feeder lanes from other 
cities leading into the motorway. But he never has to slow down for these 
cars to get on the motorway. Never at any time does he have to slow down for 
any reason. Crossroads underpass the motorway. Long-distance drivers are not 
the only ones to benefit from such a motorway. Local traffic flows more freely, 
because local roads no longer bear the burden of through traffic for which 
they were not designed. There are no visible lights. There are no road hogs. 
The motorway has taken all the irritation out of driving. The road has met 
the automobile at last on its own terms. The oyster dealer bought his truck for 
speed and reliability. The motorway has also given him safety, comfort and 

Midnight. The relief driver has taken the wheel while his friend sleeps 
not sitting up, but comfortably, in a bed in the truck cab. Neither raucous 
horn blowing for a right of way nor squeal of brakes wakens him. A sign 
flashes, telling the driver that Chicago is 47 miles due north. He checks up 
on his clock; it's only 1:30. He has passed Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne with- 
out realizing it they lie outside the route of the motorway. The shortest 
highway route in 1940 between Washington and Chicago was 697 miles. 
If he could have managed 45 miles an hour which he could not have done 
because of all the cities and towns through which the highway passed the 
trip would have taken at least fifteen and a half hours. It was a fifteen-hour 


trip on the train. But the motorway connecting Washington and Chicago is 
only 625 miles, exclusive of the feeder highways from both cities. Therefore, 
driving at 100 miles an hour while on the motorway and allowing ample time 
to approach and leave the motorway, the whole trip takes only nine hours. 

The motorway does not actually enter either city. Its terminal points are 
situated so as to permit feeder roads to distribute traffic and avoid congestion. 

The truck speeds westward. There is no need to slow down for the 2 -mile 
bridge over the Mississippi or for any of the intersections with other motorway 

Then behind them, dawn begins to break. There is a great sight to be seen 
to the eastward as they fly over the great plains of Nebraska. As the morning 
wears on, the hot, dusty atmosphere is unbearable, but in the air-conditioned 
truck cab the men are cool and comfortable. 

At regular 20 -mile intervals along the motorway there are combination 
gas stations, emergency stations, restaurants and hotels. A driver always knows 
these facilities will be available ahead of him. At one of these points, the 
oyster-laden truck automatically transfers to the 7 5 -mile lane and glides 
into the station from the transition lane leading to the 50 -mile speed route. 
They stop for a light breakfast while the truck is being refueled and checked. 

Speeding toward the west again on the 100-mile lane, after the short rest, 
through Northern Colorado and on past Salt Lake City, the driver notices a 
slight but barely perceptible upgrade. 

Now a voice over the dashboard speaker tells the driver he is entering the 

Through the haze to westward, the first profiles of great mountains appear. 
It is clear that ahead are conditions which made new problems for motorway 
engineers. The four essentials that were built into the motorway always stay 
the same: safety, speed, comfort and economy. But these essentials have to be 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 



Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

handled separately here in relation to the particular demands of each of the 
three speed lanes. 

Something happens now that they are in the foothills. Ahead is the Great 
Salt Lake. The 100- and 7 5 -mile lanes draw together as the course continues 
straight toward the body of water. Next the westbound lanes contact the 
eastbound lanes of the same speeds. The 50 -mile lanes, however, swing out 
around the lake. The two 100-mile lanes gradually ramp up over the four 75- 
mile lanes. All six of these 
lanes continue straight 
across the lake. The 75- 
mile lanes form the lower 
deck of a bridge with the 
100-mile lanes forming 
the upper deck. 

Across the body of 
water a second thing hap- 
pens. The 7 5 -mile lanes 
are emerging from be- 
neath the faster ones. The 
increasing grade has ne- 
cessitated the separation. 
These 100-mile lanes 
must rise at a lesser grade 
than the others in order 
to maintain their uniform 
high speed. The 7 5 -milers 
veer off slightly and form 
a two-directional system 


Futurama Photo by General Motors 

of their own, on a route adapted to their specific requirements. 

Each of the three groups of lanes has its own speed, its own particular gradi- 
ent and its established curve radius. All three factors remain constant. 

The 50 -mile lanes are climbing from the valley floor. They resemble the 
best highways of 1940 except, of course, that they are designed to maintain 
maximum-minimum speed and constant grade. They by-pass many natural 
obstacles, as the old highways do, and describe a somewhat circuitous route. 
The 7 5 -mile lanes are intermediate a compromise between the methods of 
the 50 and the 100. 

The 100- and 7 5 -mile 
lanes climb on a much 
straighter route than the 
fifties using cuts, fills, 
bridges and tunnels but 
still, where the terrain de- 
mands it, they give way 
in curves of great radius 
and follow the more ad- 
vantageous features of the 
land. All curves are so 
gentle that they have no 
more effect on driving 
than a straightaway. The 
50 -mile lanes are best for 
tourists who want to en- 
joy all the beauties of the 
scenery, or who want to 
leave the motorway oc- 




Norman Bel Geddes, I935 


casionally by means of a feeder road, to linger at one of the resort hotels. The 
7 5 -mile lanes are best for the conventional through traveler. But the 100- 
mile lanes are for those who mean business those who have to get across the 
Great Divide in the shortest time. 

Suddenly the motorway enters a tunnel. There is a surprise here. It isn't 
the usual dark kind of tunnel. It has been cut so close to the side of the moun- 
tain that its outer walls have openings cut into it for the admission of light 
and air. There is no need of headlights, no gasoline haze, no stifling air. 

From the tunnel mouth, the lane whirls onto a suspension bridge straight 
for the next massive mountain of granite. Below to the right is the 75-mile- 


lane system, swinging along the upper reaches of the gorge. Considerably 
farther down the valley runs the silver ribbon of the 50 -mile lanes. That val- 
ley down there has always been fertile but it was inaccessible until recently. 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


Now there are grazing slopes and terraced farms and newly developed lands: 
all made possible because the motorway has opened it up. Far away a white 
wisp of smoke marks a train. The air grows sharp and sparkling. The driver 
barely notices the steady climbing because the grade is so gradual. A cliff 
looms ahead. The only way to get around it would be to hang the highway 
upon the face of the cliff and that is exactly what has been done. 

Where the motorway runs through country susceptible to heavy snow and 
drifts, the road surface is of expanded metal with gratings that allow the 
snow to fall through, and it is treated with a chemical to melt it. In other 


sections, a chemical is auto- 
matically sprayed over the 
road surface from hydrants 
along the right of way, melt- 
ing and flushing the snow as 
it falls and preventing it from 
becoming packed and dry. 

The next sign that blinks 
past tells the story: "ALTI- 
TUDE 7,000 feet." 

After a short run across the 
roof of the world, the 7 5 -mile 
route joins up again. Before 
long the 50 -mile does likewise 
but it has used triple the 
mileage of the hundreds in the 
meantime. As glittering peaks 
drop behind them, they sail 
along through stands of 
spruce, catching glimpses of 
lower and lower valleys before 
them, until, in a vast prospect, 
they come out on the western 
margin of the continent. 

By 4 :4 5 the radio is remind- 
ing the truck driver that just 
ahead is a transition point 
where he must go through 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


deceleration lanes to reduce his speed to 5 miles and so turn off on the feeder 
for San Francisco. On a wide express boulevard, automatically controlled just 
like the motorway, he slips into the city in time for delivery and dinner. He 
has traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, on land, in twenty-four hours! 
It may sound fantastic. At least, it sounds remote. But it can be done. It 
won't be done all at once. It won't be done in a year's time. But it will be 
done. The need for quicker and safer and more economical transportation de- 
mands it. The imagination and courage of America will attend to it. 



UST as important as the technical and physical side of highway building is 
the human side. Throughout the history of transportation, there has almost 
always been a conflict between designers and technicians on the one hand, 
and grafters and profiteers on the other hand. To know roads, one should 
go behind the scenes of road building to examine the elements of control 
those social institutions and agencies which are in charge of the execution of 
the public's demands for quicker, safer, more comfortable and more economi- 
cal means of transportation. One should know how governmental bodies 
work and have worked, where the money for roads comes from, where it goes 
and where it ought to go from now on. 

Twice as much money is spent for roads today as is justified by results. 
This is a strong statement. But it rests on two major facts: inefficiency and 
graft. Of course, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish one from 
the other. Graft is often passed off as inefficiency. It is inevitably covered up 
and glossed over. The forms of graft which affect roads vary from outright 
robbery and bribery to more subtle forms which often go undetected. "Waste" 




and inefficient construction always have been and are today all too prevalent. 
As a result, roads cost too much to build, wear out too quickly, require con- 
stant repair and unnecessary maintenance costs. 

Possibly even more ruinous than the outright theft of highway funds is 
the "political road" the road routed not where it can be of most service, but 
where it will most profitably serve the interests of those in political authority. 
This practice is reminiscent of gerrymandering, a process named after Gov- 
ernor Gerry of Massachusetts, who in 1812 divided Essex County into a 
salamander-shaped district which served no purposes other than those of his 
political party. When Thomas Jefferson was President, he received a letter 
from his Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, who urged that the 
national highway then under consideration should be routed through Wash- 
ington County, Pennsylvania. The Secretary argued that Washington County 
"gives a uniform majority of about 2,000 votes in our favor, and if this be 
thrown by reason of this road in a wrong scale, we will infallibly lose the 
State of Pennsylvania at the next election." You can look up any history book 
and find that Mr. Gallatin's party won the next election. But you don't have 
to look up any books to find how the Old National Pike was routed. You can 
drive over the site of this road today where it ran squarely through the 
strategic Washington County. 

A National Transportation Program, published two years ago by the Trans- 
port Association of America, stated that: "In the recent Highway Cost Study 
conducted by the State of Illinois, it was found that that State, which has more 
miles of rural concrete pavement than any other, will be obliged to begin in 
1938 with a program of reconstruction many years in advance of that antic- 
ipated, and for which no provision has been made. Recent studies indicate 
that at current prices and vehicle tax rates, all contemplated motor vehicle 
revenues will be consumed in annual payments against principal and interest 


on highway bonds and the reconstruction of existing roads, and still leave an 
annual deficit of more than $6,000,000. The indebtedness in question will not 
be completely paid until 1957, yet much of it represents the construction of 
the 3300 miles of concrete roads which must be rebuilt over the next ten 
years. Conditions in Illinois are doubtless representative of those which exist 
in other States." 

Unfortunately, graft and inefficiency are not new developments. Perhaps 


Portland Cement Assn. 

if they were, their novelty would attract the public's attention and something 
decisive might be done about them. 

Primitive trade routes had at least one thing in common with modern high- 
ways. Both have been a means of extorting an infinite number of penalties 
from the hapless traveler. Rulers of states have always found highways an 
inexhaustible source of revenue. Robber bands, sometimes in an unholy alli- 
ance with the authorities, snatched easy profits with a flourish of a sword or 


the threat of a gun. There was never anything in American history which was 
akin to the organized robbery of the rich old caravans in Europe and Asia. But 
we have our tradition of stagecoach and train robberies. And the automobile 
highway has inherited that tradition. In Toledo, Ohio, this situation became 
so serious that the police, over a considerable period of time, turned off the city 
traffic lights after dark because so many motorists were being held up when 
they stopped for red lights. But this is only the most obvious form of highway 
holdup. Roads in America since pre-Revolutionary days have been paved with 
some good and many highly questionable intentions. 

In 1811, the Federal government undertook construction of the Cumber- 
land Road, from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling on the Ohio River, its 
first big venture in road building. State interest in highways started ten years 
later, when Kentucky set up the first State Highway Department. Public in- 
terest in highways and Federal highway activities languished over the next 
fifty years, due to the interest in railroads and their development. In 1893 the 
Office of Road Inquiry in Washington was organized, having very few powers 
and acting chiefly in an educational and advisory capacity. This resulted from 
the resourceful crusade of A. G. Batchelder and Colonel A. A. Pope, each of 
whom became known as the father of good roads. Most of the interest in roads 
and highways during the nineties was a result of the efforts of the League of 
American Wheelmen and the national craze of bicycling. 

At the beginning of the twentieth century there were only ten state high- 
way departments in the country, and it was not until 1908, when Maryland 
established the principle that highway routes were subject to state control, 
and that paved highways should at least connect county seats, that there was 
any thought of state highway planning. In 1916, the idea that the central 
government had certain duties toward interstate transportation was embodied 
in the Federal Aid Highway Act, which provided for Federal aid grants for 


road construction on condition that the states match these appropriations 
dollar for dollar. The immediate basis for this was the Federal government's 
interest in the moving of mails and of troops. Under this plan as amended and 
subsequently enlarged by relief legislation, over three billion dollars have been 
authorized by the Federal government to aid roads built under state super- 
vision. Under the Highway Act of 1921, no state could receive Federal aid 
unless its highway department collaborated with the Secretary of Agriculture 
to frame a national system of interrelated highways. 

The Office of Road Inquiry subsequently was changed to the Federal 
Bureau of Public Roads, and in 1939 its name was again changed, this time 
to the Public Roads Administration. This bureau does not have the authority 
to design or build roads. Its functions are simply to carry on research and ex- 
periments on all aspects of highway construction, to investigate and approve 
state projects, and to allocate funds, examining and supervising state high- 
ways on which Federal money has been spent. 

Where do these millions of dollars expended by the state and Federal gov- 
ernments on roads come from? The motorist pays, and pays in full. From the 
moment he purchases his car, he automatically begins to supply the revenue. 
It has been estimated that 10 to 15 per cent of the purchase price of his car 
represents taxes direct and indirect. The tax on his car and tires, registration 
and license fees are only his initial contribution. An enormous and continuous 
form of revenue derives from gasoline taxes, as well as road and bridge tolls. 
There is no lack of income from roads. It amounts to one-seventh of the total 
taxes collected by Federal, state and local governments. Yet, although one and 
a half billion dollars are paid by motorists in taxes each year, three miles out 
of every four in this country are still dirt roads. 

Obviously what has been happening all along is that the motorist is not get- 
ting back, in the form of roads and their maintenance, anywhere near all the 


money he pays in the form of taxes. There are many reasons why 
he isn't getting it back. The most harmless of these is that the 
forty-eight state highway departments have not yet formulated 
a uniform accounting system. It is very hard to figure out how 
much has been put back into roads. 

Under the present system of highway finance, little considera- 
tion is allowed for highways as one of America's most vital public 
utilities. The Federal government is contributing vast amounts of 
money to them, without the authority to plan or direct construc- 
tion. Among states which are in straitened financial circum- 
stances, there is a growing practice to divert highway funds to 
other uses. 

Diversion might simply be called a matter of financial juggling. 
About twenty-three years ago the public first became aware that 
motor vehicle tax revenues and other highway funds were being 
used for "general purposes." At that time the sum involved was 
about $700,000. But by 1935, Congressman Cartwright, Chair- 
man of the House Committee on Roads, charged that the diver- 
sion had reached such an extent that instead of spending all motor 
revenues on highway building, maintenance and the retirement 
of obligations, in that year diversion reached the "staggering 
sum" of $146,449,711. This amount of money could build 
300 miles of the most advanced type of divided highways with 
grade separation at all crossings more miles of this type of 


highway than are in existence in the United States today after | 
thirty years of road building. Instead, over $86,000,000 of it 
went into general state funds, $15,000,000 into relief, $31,000,- 
000 to education, "and the rest into airports, oyster propagation, 




United States Department of Agriculture 

etc." Congressman Cartwright summed up the situation by saying: "Wearing 
the decoration of the double cross, the American motorist, some twenty-five 
million of him, arises to ask why he should continue to stand for taxation 
without representation a small matter about which America once fought 
a war." 

Two years later, a highway engineer and President of the Portland Cement 
Association, Frank T. Sheets, speaking at an annual meeting of the Greater 
New York Safety Council, also charged that a high percentage of highway 
funds was being misused throughout the nation. He said, "We are now col- 
lecting in motor imposts (license fees, miscellaneous fees and motor fuel 
taxes) about one billion dollars a year. . . . But what have we been doing 


with these funds?" He explained that $147,000,000 a year is being diverted 
from highway use, and another $144,000,000 a year is being handed back to 
political subdivisions to be expended without any supervision by the states and 
without any definite plan. 

Governor J. M. Futrell of Arkansas, several years ago, became aware that 
his state's highway funds were mysteriously disappearing. He flatly expressed 
his belief that the proceeds of Arkansas highway bonds aggregating $163,- 
000,000 had not found their way into actual road construction. "It is my 
opinion," he said, "that a fair appraisal of our roads will show a 50 per cent 
value of the bond issues. Properly invested, $81,500,000 would have given us 
a better system of highways, and, certainly, a better constructed one." The 
Governor did not state specifically what had happened to the money, merely 
remarking that it had gone "like water." 

Frequently such bonds were bought by investors in other parts of the coun- 
try. Local citizens were so pleased with the sudden influx of ready money that 
they did not trouble to count the cost. Nor did they make any effort to pre- 
vent dishonest administration of highway funds. The citizens who used and 
paid for the roads began to realize how thoroughly they were cheated when 
many miles of road crumbled after just a year of use. A report of the High- 
way Audit Commission of Arkansas indicated overcharges of over $4,000,- 
000 on one job of $10,000,000! 

Economically and ethically, diversion of highway funds can only lead to 
disaster. The result of it is that, as Chester H. Gray, Director of the National 
Highway Users Conference, wrote, "States which are now guilty of diversion 
of highway funds see their roads deteriorating." In several states, constitu- 
tional amendments have been introduced to forbid the use of highway funds 
for any except highway purposes. 

Then comes the large and shadowy subject of graft. Graft, after all, is just 



another kind of diversion the use of road funds not for the interest of the 
people, but for the interests of certain individuals. 

Wastage of highway funds is a time-honored practice. As far back as 1831, 
Lemuel H. Arnold, a candidate for Governor of Rhode Island, was accused 
of instigating a fraudulent deal involving the Providence and Pawtucket 
Turnpike. It was charged that as members of the General Assembly, he and 
an associate had tried to get the Turnpike to buy up, at an inflated figure, a 
section of road of which they were trustees. They were further to receive a 
heavy annual cut of the tolls paid and were to pad their maintenance costs. 

A fantastic case of graft was the grandiose scheme devised in 1871 by New 


York's master corruptionist, William H. Tweed, to carve a monumental 
boulevard out of the wild ledges from Nyack to Hook Mountain, where a 
scenic hotel was to be built. Contractors grew rich on the project, but some- 
how they were never required to produce the road. Finally work was begun 
in earnest in 1939. 

The same theme, an air with variations, is heard at regular intervals in al- 
most every state in the Union. The highway construction companies and 
the inducements they offer for preferred consideration when contracts are 
awarded are a special temptation to many highway officials. All this tends to 
boost building and materials costs at the start. In July, 1939, the Governor of 
Louisiana uncovered an instance of this and obtained the resignation of the 
head of his Highway Commission. Before that, it was Ohio's turn. In 1938, 
Governor Davey ordered Harry A. Sparks, an engineer in the State Highway 
Department, to be dropped from the payroll. Mr. Sparks had testified before 
a State Senate Committee that estimates were padded so that a ring of bitu- 
minous road material men could make exorbitant profits in selling the state 
the material used to produce tar roads. The state had paid $ 14 per cubic yard 
for bituminous material which the Federal government buys at $6.56! Mr. 
Sparks also charged that the state had wasted $2, 000, 000 on bituminous roads 
within two years. The same investigation disclosed that the State of Ohio had 
been charged $9,000,000 for surfacing material which should have cost just 
half the amount. One company testified that it had to pay twenty-five cents 
to an associate at Democratic headquarters for each ton it sold to the state. 

These are figures on the accountants' books. They don't include the multi- 
fold unaccountable expenditures. The practice of purchasing the roads through 
private construction companies probably adds a few more million dollars of 
overcharges, extras, and exorbitant expenditures beyond a fair construction 
cost. The fact of the story is that the money wasn't properly spent. It 


bought roads that through inferior specifications and contracting lined the 
builders' pockets. 

A recent example of highway graft occurred in the construction of Con- 
necticut's Merritt Parkway. A report to Governor Wilbur S. Cross listed the 
types of crookedness that appeared there. Highway contracts were rigged. 
Miles of roadside graded by one highway unit were torn up by another. 
Cracked concrete bridges were approved. Road materials were inadequately 
tested, and credibly enough, the work was poorly inspected. Land assessed at 
about $14,000 was sold to the state by one of its legislators and members of 
his family for $100,000! In Greenwich, the state paid over $1,000,000 for 
land assessed at less than one-tenth that sum. 

A land agent for the state in Merritt Parkway deals, G. Leroy Kemp, was 
charged with having conspired to divide commissions with two real-estate 
brokers representing persons who sold much of the land to the state. He was 
convicted. Another state purchasing agent refused to buy a piece of land at 
$16,000, yet paid $24,750 for the same property immediately after a woman 


had purchased it at the lower figure. As a result of this and other similar trans- 
actions, the same woman received $245,000 from the state for property ac- 
quired by the Merritt Parkway project. Notable among her real-estate ven- 
tures was the sale to the state of a house not once but twice. 

As a result of grand jury investigations, Governor Cross asked for and re- 
ceived the resignation of a State Highway Commissioner. After this, the land 
required to complete the Parkway was acquired at reasonable cost. Condemna- 
tion proceedings were effective wherever excessive prices were asked. 

Nobody has ever yet attempted to figure out how much money has found 
its way from the highway into the pockets of grafters. Nor is it possible to 
estimate how many citizens are killed and maimed in highway accidents on 
faultily constructed or inadequate roads, the funds for which were, legally 
or illegally, diverted. But it is possible to estimate the number of people who 
have been victims of these modern highwaymen. The number exactly equals 
the total population of this country. 

Because of the difficulty in detecting graft, it is also difficult to know where 
to place the blame for it and how to prevent it. Dishonesty is insidious; it 
creeps in surreptitiously even in well-guarded places. It is certain that the 
restraining influence of the U. S. Public Roads Administration holds a great 
deal of potential graft in check. Chief Thomas H. MacDonald is a scrupu- 
lously honest administrator, and he has always demanded similar quality in 
his associates and on all road construction over which he has had authority as 
a result of Federal aid. But in spite of his vigilance and the honesty of many 
other public officials local, state and Federal graft continues to thwart 
highway progress in many ways. 

Graft, as everyone knows, cannot be prevented by constitutional amend- 
ment. It forces itself on the minds of citizens not so much because it means 
crime as because it means waste and inefficiency. Elimination of graft will not, 


all of itself, give you an efficient highway system. But it will give you twice 
as much for your money. 

A figure by now familiar is this: the cost to business of delay due to con- 
gested traffic runs as high as $1,000,000 a day in New York City alone. An- 
other revealing statement is this, made by the National Safety Council: the 
money wasted in 1937 traffic accidents would have built thirty-five Empire 
State Buildings or sixty-five ocean liners like the Queen Mary. Such facts 
bring us up against the basic question: if we want a system of highways that 
will put an end to this appalling toll, how will we keep grafters, diversionists, 
and log-rollers from running off with a large share of the money? 

Whatever such highways will be, they should not be laid down hit or miss 
by those in authority in thousands of local communities. Highway undertak- 
ings are not local enterprises, or at least should not be, because highways or any 
individual parts of them go to make up a complete national highway trans- 
portation system. Building small sections of highways under local jurisdiction 
without fully understanding the part which such highways must play in the 
whole national transportation network cannot produce a unified national 
highway plan for automobile transportation. At present the Federal govern- 
ment is, however, empowered to do little more than confer with local bodies, 
grant them money, and then erect the august "U.S." shield on the roadside, 
although Washington spends a sum of over $200,000,000 annually for road- 
building and grade-crossing elimination, to supplement the contributions of 
the individual states. 

Efficient national highway transportation is as vital to the well-being of 
the American public as is the efficient transportation of mail and other similar 


undertakings of the Federal government. There is a Federal obligation to 
develop the country's resources of land, water power, and natural wealth. And 
there is no single undertaking more important to these obligations than the 
development of facilities for national transportation. 

That Federal agencies can do such work is abundantly proven, if only by 
the record of the Army Engineer Corps. This organization built the Panama 
Canal. It built, among other dams, the great Bonneville structure in Oregon. 
It is now building a few roads in Texas for the Air Corps. Compared to what 
goes on in usual highway construction, there is very little inefficiency in the 
Army. And as for graft if graft were exposed and proven before an army 
court martial, the punishments would be so severe that they would be a 
strong deterrent to any further dishonesty. 

Many highway authorities put forth the argument that Federal road 
building might be considered as part of the Federal government's obligation 
to develop the country. Few Federal activities are profitable in the sense of 
commercial undertakings which must show an immediate cash return to 
justify the investment. The Federal government is the only agency constitu- 
tionally responsible for general welfare in its broadest sense. The American 
people would not willingly break up among the forty-eight states the Federal 
government's responsibility for carrying the mails. They would not dispense 
with their Navy, or the Panama Canal, even though these maritime ventures 
may seem remote to most of those who dwell inland. They take for granted 
the purchase of an enormous and relatively isolated section of land such as 
Alaska, and they approve the maintenance of large public parks, such as 
Yellowstone, for the enjoyment of tourists. All of these are costly ventures, 


yet the Federal obligation to see them through seems as natural as a parent's 
responsibility to put his child through school. The paternal relationship re- 
quires intelligent and unsparing development of the child's abilities. In similar 
fashion, there is a Federal obligation to develop the country's resources of land 
and its facilities for transport. 

Once that obligation is fully recognized as applying to the American high- 
way system, work can begin. First of all, people will stop thinking about indi- 
vidual highways, laid down from here to there because of a burst of inspira- 
tion by some state or county commission. They will start thinking about an 
organized system of highways, laid out according to a national plan. They 
won't congratulate themselves on finding that this stretch or that stretch of 
road is being built honestly and efficiently. They will demand that kind of 
building from the system as a whole. They will not have to go to work throw- 
ing out and replacing a whole panel of local officials in order to get a notorious 
local bottleneck straightened out. Once they stop buying their roads in little 
chunks, from time to time, from corner dealers whose rating is often question- 
able, they will no longer find themselves being short-changed. 

Bad roads are more expensive to travel on and to maintain than good ones. 
That is the argument which stands head and shoulders above all technical 
disagreements over "broad" versus "strict" interpretations of the Constitu- 
tion, or over central versus local government. The corollary of that argument 
is that good roads are a sound investment. Poor roads are an economic liability. 

The greatest political grab bag today for making up deficits and for pad- 
ding political pockets is made up from the appropriations voted for the con- 
struction and improvement of the country's highways the routes that are 
such a vital part of the nation's transportation system. As a result of this, 
highways are poorly constructed, are expensively constructed, are in constant 
need of repair, and the transportation of goods and men bears the resultant 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garriso 


burden. The many taxes and imposts which go to make up these appropria- 
tions are out of all proportion to the benefits received. Good highways cost 
money a great deal of money but if that money were put into their con- 
struction, instead of into oyster propagation or other similarly unrelated en- 
terprises, the motor transportation system of this country would benefit so 
directly that the return would justify the investment. 




HEN a small town succeeds in getting a fine new highway put right 
through its center, it gets not only contact with the outside world; it gets 
impact, it gets congestion. The new road carries a far heavier load than the 
town's own traffic. A storm of cars hits the town: impersonal cars, through 
motorists, faces no one in town knows, all-night trucking. With them they 
bring noise, dirt and traffic accidents. The town gets more new neighbors than 
it bargained for. And most of them are not neighbors at all. They have no 
business with the town and regard it as just another nuisance along the 

Early in the century, the small American town was in many respects what 
a community should be: quiet, livable, spacious, blending with the country- 
side and serving as a focus for a whole rural area. The roads on which it de- 
pended had been built when the town was first developed. Its streets were 
really country roads, widened and lined with great trees. On shaded avenues 
houses stood back far enough to avoid summer dust, but not so far back that 
their inhabitants couldn't watch their neighbors' wagons and buggies as they 


Underwood & Underwood 

passed. All of the streets but one or two were 
residential. The business area was limited, not 
by legislation but by volume. In many cases, 
the main artery for carrying on a town's com- 
mercial activities was not a road at all, but an 
old state canal or the local railroad branch. 

On the town streets, the lone grocery wagon 
was often the only moving vehicle in sight. It 
was no traffic menace. It never even came near 
bumping into another wagon or running any- 
one down. If anyone strolled out in front of the 
horse, its driver pulled up or around to let him 
pass. And when, in turn, the driver, his work 

COUNTRY TOWN OLD STYLE """ finished, ambled from the grocery over to the 

drug store for a soda, he never thought of going to the corner crossing or of 
looking to right or left for any approaching vehicle. If he met a friend in the 
middle of that leisurely sixty-foot-wide street, they might stop to talk of 
many things, but never about traffic. 

When the railroad came to town, it was a great event. A "main-line" rail- 
road through a particular locality established that locality as a coming center. 
Older citizens sitting around the stove in the grocery store loved to talk of 
how cheering crowds welcomed the first train. Today anyone who has seen a 
smoky and tumble-down Railroad Avenue that was once a choice residential 
street would think that the thousands of American towns which welcomed 
the railroads' entry had carried their enthusiasm to an unfortunate extreme. 
But at the time it was essential for those towns to make contact with the 
outside world. They were only too ready to grant the railroad any right of 
way it wanted. 


Highways came into town a little more gradually. There was no autocratic 
corporation behind them, dictating terms. The first thing that happened was 
simply that the town paved "Main Street." Then the road to the next town 
was improved to take care of the farm produce that was just beginning to 
come through by trucks to the freight depot. If anyone had then told a local 
citizen that, by allowing a state highway to route itself through Main Street, 
his town was giving up its old-time privacy, he would have laughed. His town 
had endured isolation long enough. And if anyone had told the highway build- 
ers that by using Main Street to pass through town the highway was slowing 
down traffic and loosing a certain amount of its value as a means of through 
transportation, he would have been regarded as queer. But these two things 
are just what happens when a highway is routed through a town. A quiet com- 
munity suddenly has to exert control over an inter-city express system. The 
local law enforcement officer, the constable, becomes the local traffic author- 
ity. This local traffic authority, who has never 
had even a serious parking problem to handle, 
suddenly has what is in effect a national travel 
problem. No matter how good his intentions 
may be, he is primarily looking out for the in- 
terests of his own town, not of this national 
travel. And tens of thousands of separate au- 
thorities, looking out for tens of thousands of 
separate localities, when added up together don't 
constitute the one great authority that is essen- 
tial for the operation of an efficient national 
highway system. The smaller the unit of gov- 
ernment that exercises authority over road 
building and control, and the more dispersed 


these units are, the less continuity of route and surface there is. When road 
building depends on local and personal whims, a four-lane highway is likely 
to be sent swooping through a mess of haberdasheries and then, without ex- 
planation, to peter out at the town or county line into a narrow macadam 
road. This naturally slows down the through motorist. It is not the only 
unfortunate result, however, of routing highways through towns. 

R. E. Toms, Chief of the Division of Design of the Public Roads Adminis- 
tration, has said that from a quarter to a half of all roads built during the 
past twenty years are unfit for the high-speed traffic they now carry. In few 
instances is this more clearly shown than on the patchwork routes which con- 
nect many of our small communities. Four-lane roads suddenly converge into 
two. Paved roads give way to dust, and then, unexpectedly, to pavement 
again. In New England, a sign marking the "Edge of Dover" all too often 
marks off the end of human comfort until the driver has slowly jogged his 
way to the next sign announcing a new town's limits and another decent road 
surface. In Kansas, the Emporia Weekly Gazette recently advocated a "county 
unit road system" to avoid the "typical township road a road which nine 
times out of ten is narrow, bumpy, unkept and in some cases unsur faced." 

Naturally the local authorities have not hesitated to try out all sorts of re- 
strictive controls on through traffic. Forced to provide special constables to 
control traffic which pays no local taxes, many communities have resorted to 
paying the salaries of such officers with fees collected from the motorists whom 
they arrest. In the latest report of the Highway Safety Commission of Con- 
necticut, it was noted that thirty towns in that state had traffic constables 
paid solely on this basis, and that "in some places, the number of arrests is so 
disproportionate to that in adjoining towns as to lead to the inference that 
arrests are sought by the constables to swell their income, rather than provide 
safety on the roads." Speed traps, designed to line the town coffers, are grossly 


unfair to the tourist, who has little recourse against local authority. 

On the other hand, when their own constituents are concerned, local of- 
ficials have been slow to put through the most necessary traffic reforms. Pedes- 
trians are allowed to jaywalk at their own risk. Heavily traveled streets are 
obstructed by diagonal parking. More consideration is given to soft drink 
shacks and hot dog stands than to clear vision at the intersections where they 
spring up. Towns once so charming that they might have been a special attrac- 
tion to tourists have been so disfigured by catch-penny signs that the motorist 
flees on, too harassed by local restrictions to stop and fulfill the exalted hopes 
which local merchants entertained when a highway past their shops was first 

The custom of locating business where traffic is thickest dates back to the 
days of more sparse and leisurely transport, when it was really necessary. To- 
day there are still plenty of vociferous small- town merchants who, overlook- 
ing the chaos that results, insist on thrusting their communities upon the at- 
tention of motorists in the baldest possible fashion. For example, when the 
Bronx River Parkway Extension was run within a hundred feet of Valhalla, 
New York, shrubbery was planted to act as a screen between the community 
and through traffic. So well did the shrubbery grow, and so effectively did it 
serve its purpose, that the local merchants demanded that it be cut away in 
order to keep the town from becoming "a forgotten village." The merchants' 
indignation grew even faster than the bushes. They explained that "the trees 
just about eliminate us from the outside world. Five thousand cars often pass 
Valhalla every hour without seeing our Broadway, close as it is." On the other 
hand, in many New England communities, more foresighted residents have 
protested in vain against the devastation of their privacy by state highways 
routed through the main streets and the town center. 

The argument that a re-routing of through traffic means a loss of business 


to a town brings up the question: "What kind of business?" It does not seem 
credible that the Main Street merchant of recognized wares would lose any- 
thing if the hordes of cars whose only interest is to get through and out of the 
town never went through it at all. On the other hand, that merchant is prob- 
ably losing business today simply because of the through traffic that stampedes 



FROM "LIFE," 1907 

Harry L. Newman 

past his windows. It doesn't stop, except for the traffic light; but it does have 
the effect of stopping his own regular customers from getting to him and com- 
fortably parking near by. What has actually happened is that, in reaching out 
for the lunch-counter trade of tourist cars, his town has lowered its own liv- 
ing standard and injured its own basic trade. It has allowed a fringe of fly-by- 
night stands and shanties to be set up around its approaches, and in doing so 


has both provided itself with a roadside slum and crippled its own chances for 
growth. It has failed to see that the interests of local traffic are exactly opposite 
to those of through traffic. And on its congested and disrupted Main Street 
the two kinds of traffic are left to fight it out. 

Furthermore, rural safety vanishes with rural peace. In 1924, the number 
of motor accidents in rural localities and in large cities was about the same, 
approximately ten thousand each. Since then the number of such accidents 
in rural areas and small communities has increased by more than 170 per cent 
as compared with a 30 per cent increase in the cities of over ten thousand 

Roads littered with mile after mile of billboards, tourist camps, roadhouses 
and auto graveyards not only injure neighboring towns and local traffic, but 
impede the very through traffic which they are designed to attract. For exam- 
ple, fifteen thousand cars a day use the recently built Garvey Avenue, a high- 
speed artery leading out of dense Los Angeles across the San Gabriel Valley in 
California. But besides merely traveling on the road, these cars are hailed by 
countless roadside signs to stop and buy Siamese cats, second-hand plumbing, 
and the assorted goods of by actual count over three hundred mushroom 
businesses. Highway engineers estimate that cars parking in front of the stands 
and cutting in and out of traffic to reach them destroy at least 5 per cent of 
the highway's efficiency. 

"What has happened is that the relationship which should exist between road 
and surroundings has gone wrong or rather, there isn't any relationship. 
Everyone just tries to get through as best he can, running the gauntlet of a 
chaos of laws and landscape. But in order to see what can be done and how 
easy it is to do it take the example of the Skyline Boulevard, another 
California highway, which runs south from San Francisco along the crest of 
the Santa Cruz Mountains, leading past commanding views of the Pacific. 


Farther south, the highway skirts great redwood forests. For 80 miles, 
through San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, not a billboard obstructs the 
view. Legitimate business along the way is provided for at seven restricted 
points. Strict control is exercised over the appearance and location of the few 
types of retail business which are permitted, and shops are set back from the 
highway to allow their customers to park without obstructing the flow of 
traffic. The long stretches between these limited districts are zoned against 
business. There are two results to this zoning rule: first, highway investment 
is protected ; second, pleasant motoring is promoted. 

Both the American Automobile Association and the American Planning 
and Civic Association advocate passage by all states of a uniform highway law 
which would establish such control for all main highways. The value and 
sightliness of non-commercial property would be maintained by zoning, and 
new building would be prohibited within 50 feet of the road. An exception 
is made for wayside stands selling the produce of land immediately adjacent, 
but even these stands would be set back 25 feet from the road so that cus- 
tomers would not park on the roadbed. 

The Public Roads Administration stipulates that at least 1 per cent of 
all Federal highway funds must be devoted to roadside development. From the 
old practice of holding each farmer responsible for mowing down the under- 
brush along his own fence and ditch, America has advanced to a point where 
public interest in the roadside is widespread, and government responsibility 



for it is somewhat more generally recognized. One midwestern state spends 
over six hundred thousand dollars a season just to eliminate weed growth along 
its highways. 

Recently built motor parkways show how much more pleasant driving can 
be when a positive and constructive stand is taken toward all the roadside 
factors. Here the road's environment is controlled, not by restrictive meas- 
ures, but by the outright ownership of a right of way sufficiently wide to 
protect all interests involved: the motorist, the adjacent land-owners, and the 
state. The land on either side of the road is landscaped to conform with the 
local setting, increasing the pleasure of rural driving and preventing com- 
mercial exploitation of the public investment. It acts as a buffer between the 
stream of traffic and neighboring homes. While on the old type of highways 
widening is often made prohibitively expensive by the necessity of condemn- 
ing new buildings which have encroached on the road, and the inflation of land 
values since the original pavement was laid, the parkway can easily be enlarged 
to take care of growing traffic. For the state always has the land. 

To achieve these satisfactory road conditions, planning is first applied to 
the road itself, freeing it of crosscurrents and the annoyances of driving 
through business sections. Then planning is applied to the surroundings, in 
order to create a harmonious environment. The third point at which planning 
is applied is obviously the community itself. The outcome of establishing a fruit- 
ful relationship between town and road is that life becomes more pleasant not 
only for the motorist, but for the resident as well. This cannot be achieved 
by traffic laws. It can only be achieved by design. As long as highways pass 
through towns, cars will pass through towns. If the principle is to be estab- 
lished that fast traffic should not go through a town, this must be made 
physically impossible. 

There are communities in the United States in which this principle has 



Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

taken concrete form. The first one of this sort was built upon plans drawn by 
Henry Wright in 1929, at Radburn, New Jersey. Here homes turn their back 
doors on the street, fronting instead on green parks and safe playgrounds in- 
side the large residential blocks. These neighborhood units are united by a 
single community center, where all shopping and business can be attended to 
without the necessity of having to repark the car several times in front of 
scattered shops. Short-stop local traffic is reduced by this centralization. 
Through traffic in residential sections is discouraged by the discontinuous 
pattern of local streets. Foot traffic has its own walkways separated from mov- 
ing cars by over- and underpasses. Radburn effectively shows how a com- 
munity can preserve its privacy and at the same time maintain full contact 


with the rest of the world. Radburn is one instance of a town that is sold to the 
hilt. People want to live in it. Tourists want to visit it. There is no trouble 
driving into it. But neither are there lines of through motorists piled up in it, 
all impatient and all blowing their horns. 

Similar examples of town planning from the ground up are to be found 
at Green Acres, Long Island; Sunnyside, Long Island; Greenbelt, Maryland; 
Buckingham, Virginia; and Cerritos Park, California. The interest of many 
towns in better traffic control and better housing is shown by the recent estab- 
lishment of planning agencies in Santa Cruz, California; Yakima, Washing- 
ton; Sioux City, South Dakota; Waukesha, Wisconsin; North Providence, 
Massachusetts; Austin, Texas; Montclair, New Jersey; and the Kentucky 
legislature which recently passed an enabling law to permit the establishment 
of planning commissions in smaller cities. 

Leonardo da Vinci's request that the Duke of Milan permit him to build ten 
new small cities in order "to separate this great congregation of people who 
herd together like goats on top of one another" is one of the historical instances 
of planning for small-town development. But the modern criterion of a "gar- 
den city" in which the best features of town and country are to be preserved 
was first proposed by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898. His ideal community, 
planned on a human scale, with its boundaries predetermined and its integral 
structure designed to maintain a balanced life, without confusion or conges- 
tion, is yet to be attained. 

The idea expressed in all progressive town- traffic planning is this: Of all the 
vehicles on the road, only those shall enter the community which actually have 
business there; and of those which do enter the community, only those shall 
enter a given street which actually are being used in connection with people 
living in that street. This is becoming an ever more important principle, be- 
cause as towns increase in size, sentiment grows steadily stronger against over- 



New York City Park Dept. 

loading the streets with extraneous traffic. What is offered as an effective solu- 
tion is the "by-pass," a route to divert traffic around the town. 

Studies made of cars using by-pass routes show that by avoiding the inter- 
mittent starting and stopping at city street corners, traffic can travel one- 
third farther at the same cost per trip. By-passes also permit the realignment 
of main highways so that the actual route is shortened too. They provide alter- 
nate routes in cases of emergency, and eliminate the need of costly widening 
of urban streets. Both local and through traffic is safer, more orderly and 
expeditious when the by-pass is used to segregate them. Before construction 
of the Keyport by-pass in New Jersey, the old route from the coastal resorts 


to metropolitan areas carried as many as fifty thousand cars a day, worming 
their way through narrow streets and past railroad grade crossings frequently 
blocked by passing trains. Through traffic, once delayed for as much as two 
hours under these conditions of maximum hazard and inconvenience, now has 
a route of its own, over a two-and-a-half -mile by-pass. 

Obviously it is essential that by-passes be zoned against business, and that 
access to them be strictly controlled. Otherwise, the route built at considerable 
expense to avoid urban congestion would soon be spoiled by shopkeepers 
shifting over to exploit it and to use every eye-catching device to stop cars 
which must maintain an even flow if the by-pass is to serve its purpose. 

The means are available to do two things at once: first, to protect main 
highways from the interruptions of local traffic, and second, to protect towns 
from the devastating effect of through traffic. The means are available, but 
they have been tried only here and there. Where they have actually been used, 
this has been done hesitantly, piece by piece, as if people were afraid that real 
over-all planning would lead them too far astray from their old and cumber- 
some habits. 

The express motorway of the future will not enter towns or even go from 
town to town. It will pass near to and serve the town. It will take the town's 
needs into consideration, as well as its possibilities for future expansion. Even 
the lesser highway linking two minor communities will be planned so as to 
preserve the integrity of both those communities. It will not clog their business 
areas. It will not set up competing slums along the roadsides. It will not cripple 
the town's chances of growth. Its purpose will be to make traffic between one 
town and the next easier more safe, more comfortable, more speedy, and 
more economical than it is today. It will do that first of all by segregating 
local traffic from through traffic. It will serve the town by means of feeders 
rather than by means of intersections. In no sense will it isolate the town be- 





cause it passes around outside of it. Its whole intention will be to reduce the 
town's isolation to broaden its radius of communication. 

Many American towns grew up in chains, each settlement about 3 miles 
one from the other. There was once an excellent reason why the highway 
should seek out the heart of each of these habitations as it trailed westward; 
stagecoaches needed a change of horses, passengers needed meals and a rest. 
According to today's range, however, these successive towns ought to lie about 
300 miles apart. That is just another way of saying that it is worse than 
pointless for the modern car to have to stop every 3 miles just because the 
stagecoach once had to. The car will be benefited if it can go straight on. 
Driving range is constantly increasing. The range of neighbors is increasing. 
A time is coming when the man in the American small town will awaken to 
the fact that he has two communities in which to get about easily: the first, 
his own intimate locality, and the second, his country at large. 

[ 200 ] 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 




HE Rise of Cities" is so obvious a contemporary social fact that it has 
become a chapter title in elementary textbooks. But, like many social facts, 
this one has a reverse which is also true. 

Beginning with the industrial revolution, masses of people moved into cities. 
But now they are beginning to reverse the process and move out of the cities. 
From the beginning, social reformers have been begging them to get out. 
Robert Owen, the progressive British industrialist, in 1817 proposed that in- 
dustrial workers lift themselves out of the squalor of the factory system by 
building small balanced communities in the open country. Fourier and Cabet 
designed model colonies. In the 1920's, planners in Germany, Sweden, Switzer- 
land and other countries actually built such communities. 

But historically the rebound movement from the cities has not developed 
by any means ideally. As the central core of the metropolis became congested, 
its residential advantages began to fall; rising land values rooted out its 
gardens and breathing-spaces; then, as Lewis Mumford writes in The Culture 
of Cities, "the original residential areas are eaten into from within, as if by 



Ewing Galloway 

termites, as the original inhabitants move out and are replaced by lower 
economic strata; then these overcrowded quarters, serving as an area of transi- 
tion between the commercial center and the better dormitory areas, become 
in their disorder and their misery special breeding points for disease and 
crime." The final state is depopulation ruined houses, no rents, no taxes: "a 
vast economic and civic liability." 

As people exhausted this core they began to settle on the fresh land sur- 
rounding the city. Like swarms of locusts they proceeded to devour that land, 
digesting it in the form of suburbs, "developments," unplanned areas over- 
built with cheap speculative housing, until these areas in turn left disorder, 
blight and new slums, and people had to march out still farther. The objective 
has always been to find raw land with excellent transportation into the city. 
The residents want this; the real estate dealers want this; and the planners and 
visionaries want it. But they have all gone about it in different ways. Most 
people are far too familiar with the appearance and problems of their city's 
outskirts to need any further description of what has happened. But all these 
dire experiences bring home the point that in considering cities one must first 


of all consider the tributary districts which lie outside and around them. 

One must take into account the great popular impetus from the center 
outward. Great possibilities for the city lie in the land beyond it; the problem 
is to make that land accessible, to preserve it from exploitation that defeats its 
own purpose in other words, to find a fruitful relation between city and 

Such a relation is a problem of approaches a problem of communication. 
The conventional form of development of American city transit systems is 
that of revolving in a vicious circle. In New York City, 8 5 per cent of the 
population is jammed into one-third of its area near the center, while the re- 
maining 1 5 per cent is spread out over the remaining two-thirds. This is due 
to unplanned or misplanned development; to poor transit facilities at the 
outskirts; and the result is the cycle that leads right around again to conges- 
tion and more slums. A far-sighted planning of transit facilities twenty years 
ago might have made the distribution of population far more even and its 
transportation far simpler and more convenient. Instead of that, the city is 
now faced with the prospect of spending three billion dollars, not to advance 
its Regional Plan, but merely to make the city more livable for its present 
population. This is glaring evidence of past failure to plan. And even worse 
penalties will have to be paid in the future if planning continues to be neglected. 
Certainly a basic proce- 
dure in the future should 

be to design transporta- 
tion projects that aim at 
better distribution instead 
of merely at making the 
existing congestion a little 
more tolerable. 

R. H. Macy 



At the present stage of highway development suburban communities spread 
out within a commuting radius of about 50 miles from a city. That radius 
has lengthened in recent years in direct proportion to the increase in facilities 
for reaching the city. The only reason the people who go to work in the city 
or who produce something that is sold in the city do not move still farther out 
is that the present transportation system holds them in. If cars could go twice 
as fast as they do today, the accessibility of the city's surrounding area would 
increase fourfold. Assuming that the population did not increase, this would 
make possible a general thinning out which would give everyone freedom. 

Such a fourfold growth 
of commuting area would 
naturally have a great 
effect on farm markets. 
Land that today is prac- 
tically untouched farm 
country, remote from 
centers like New York 
and Chicago, would be 
opened up and used spe- 
cifically to serve those 
cities, bringing in new 
domestic products to the 
cities. In New York City, 
where the overnight ship- 
ping radius is now 200 
miles, it would jump to 
500 or 600 miles, chang- 
ing the entire economy. 



Ever since Robert Owen's inspiration, planners have wanted to realize such 
a distribution. Their thought has been to regard the city as a working entity 
and the country as a living entity. Except in the rarest cases, their proposals 
have not been put into effect. But the thought has spread. The best way to 
break up urban congestion is to increase the radius of movement around cities. 
That calls for a new conception of highways planned to feed and draw off 

Thus the effects of overcrowding in midtown Manhattan and the heart of 
Chicago are not confined to those relatively small central areas themselves. 
The forces of congestion originating there radiate throughout the city and 
affect traffic congestion in other boroughs as well as in districts out beyond the 
city limits. A great deal has been done, both by New York City itself and by 
the states of New York and New Jersey, to get traffic smoothly in and out of 
the metropolitan area; but the capacity and usefulness of these extensive ap- 
proaches are directly dependent on the capacity of the streets of midtown 
Manhattan. To consider traffic problems from any angle soon forces one to 
consider them from all angles. To study highways means to look at the needs 
of rural traffic one moment and the needs of urban traffic the next. It will not 
solve matters to revise the system of approaches while leaving the system of 
city streets as it is. 

The Federal Bureau of Public Roads declared in a recent report that the 
only way to solve the problem of traffic entering and leaving a city is to pro- 
vide facilities that will carry the heavier traffic right through the heart of the 
city and so on out to appropriate exit points. Yet at the same time, it declared 
that in the case of all large cities and many smaller ones, there is need for belt- 
line distribution roads for other traffic. 

It would seem, though, that American traffic experience has shown that 
when major routes go directly into cities, they cause congestion and confusion. 

[ 209 ] 

Photo by General Motors 



When, on the other hand, they avoid cities on the Bureau's by-passing "belt- 
line distribution roads," they are forced out of their way, and as a result they 
lose a quality that is essential to a highway, namely that of being the shortest 
distance between two points. 

Actually, there is a third alternative which makes the problems connected 
with both of these solutions unnecessary. It is to consider highways as straight- 
line routes laid out on a direct course between the environs of cities, instead 
of directly from the center of one city to the center of another. Tradition, 
true enough, calls upon the road to steer straight for the heart of town. But if 
the purpose of the motorway as now conceived is that of being a high-speed 
non-stop thoroughfare, the motorway would only bungle that job if it got 
tangled up with a city. It would lose its integrity. The motorway should serve 
heavily populated areas, but it does not have to connect population hubs di- 
rectly. A great motorway has no business cutting a wide swath right through 
a town or city and destroying the values there; its place is in the country, 
where there is ample room for it and where its landscaping is designed to 
harmonize with the land around it. Its presence will not, like that of a rail- 
road, destroy the beauty of the land. It will help maintain it. 

The visitor to a great American city in 1960 approaches it by air, in order 
to see the layout of the new design more readily. It is a typical city. But it is 
not just any city: this one, as its towers begin to take shape far away in the 
haze, lies on flat terrain and along one margin of it there runs a great river. In 
1940, so the statistics say, it had about one million inhabitants. The 1960 
census gives it nearer two million. As one soars toward it, one's first air view 
is no longer that of highways becoming more and more cluttered. One misses 
the shabby realty developments, the marginal farms whose streams are being 
polluted by outlying factories, auto graveyards, dumps, and the roadside 
shanties that used to mark city approaches. 





**'.. '- ' .- 


Futurama Photo by General Motors 

All this f ringeland is being held back from speculators and exploiters held 
back until the day when the city's further growth will call for it. Land has 
been bought up for express routes which will be added to the feeders that have 
already been built joining the city and its surrounding land ; and on this skele- 
ton framework the future suburbs will grow. 

The city makes no claim to being ideal. It was not financially possible to 
rebuild the city completely, scrapping its original layout. In the densest cen- 


tral portion, where development and values were at their highest, there had to 
be many compromises. It was tough enough just to clear the worst streets 
there. By opening up the sections surrounding the center, by reclaiming them 
from misuse and blight, people were drawn out, distributing more evenly both 
population and traffic. 

Along the feeder roads, green strips of park are laid down to prevent the 
tendency of industry and small business alike to spread out along the right of 
way and exploit it. Sometimes these strips broaden out into whole areas de- 
voted to suburban parks and forests. Sometimes they mark the housing de- 
velopments that lie outside the commercial districts in areas into which there 
is no intrusion. Parks have replaced the area devoted in 1940 to the ugly chaos 
of warehousing, shipping, and waterfront. Now they border this as a self- 
contained unit, with terminals, railroad yards, and a nearby housing develop- 
ment with recreational areas. They infiltrate into the older building mass at 
the city center. Smaller parks and recreation centers serve specific neighbor- 
hoods. In providing light and air, they give way to decentralization. They are 
not smuggled into the city plan; they are designed as integral parts of it. 

The visitor's plane banks steeply over tall skyscrapers that stand widely 
separated in their gleaming sheaths of glass. The air terminal is about 9 miles 
from the city's center; this airport is interesting, not because it has been 
designed for 1960, but because it has been designed to accommodate all possi- 
ble needs which may arise within the next fifty years after that. Its entire 
circular area is paved, making it possible for planes to land or take off in any 
direction. Hangars, service buildings, passenger facilities and buildings for 
personnel surround the field. At its border is a base with all equipment neces- 
sary for the handling of seaplanes. 

No less than the airplanes, the railroads that enter the city are gathered 
together in a way that keeps them safely separate from the other forms of 



Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison and United Airlines 

transportation. They are brought underground to a great union terminal near 
the commercial center; then they pass under the city until at the outskirts 
they emerge and are redistributed in a fan pattern. 

The activities of the city's docks have been coordinated in a similar central 

Development of adequate transportation facilities has made such a city 
possible transportation facilities which permit free flow of traffic through- 
out all streets within the city and, what is more important, a free flow of 
traffic from within the city proper to all the surrounding countryside, with 
adequate facilities to carry that traffic straight through a motorway system. 

A network of express boulevards has been planned to provide uninterrupted 
traffic flow between the city and its surrounding suburbs and country f acili- 


ties, giving direct high-speed rights of way to the through motorways con- 
necting the rest of the country. 

Just as the smallest village is linked to the motorway by means of con- 
venient secondary roads, so the city is linked to it by means of high-speed 
feeders. These two-directional lane-segregated boulevards sweep off from the 
motorway in great wide curves that permit traffic to head for the city at an 
unreduced 50-mile-an-hour speed. Their number, width and plan are de- 
termined by the size of the city and the density of its traffic flow. The princi- 
ples remain the same under all conditions. As the feeder leaves the motorway, 
its lanes are designed to take care of the calculated flow coming from that 
direction. As more commuting traffic merges with the feeder, more lanes are 
added. Traffic between the city proper and its outlying satellite sections moves 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 



Thomas Airviews 

over these feeders, which consequently must be flexible in design. As the home- 
coming commuting traffic leaves the boulevards to be distributed in the sur- 
rounding sections, the number of lanes decreases so that as the feeder reaches 


Model for Shell Oil Co. by Norman Bel Geddes Photographed by Richard Garrison 


the motorway, the lanes are only sufficient to care for the long-distance traffic. 

Just before reaching the city itself, the lanes of the feeder boulevard fan out 

and form a tributary system that connects with the express boulevards within 







Norman Bel Geddes, I935 

the city. In this outlying section there are depots, parking spaces and transfer 
points. Here commuters may park their cars and take subways into the busi- 
ness section, or they may transfer from their large high-powered rural cars 
and drive on in their small urban cars. Here long-distance buses transfer their 
passengers to small local buses. Large trucks, too, go no farther into the city 
than this. They haul up at loading platforms and put their products aboard 
city trucks or on pneumatic delivery tubes. 

Thus the motorway tributary system does away with the usual bottlenecks 
at city approaches and hooks up, by high-speed non-stop traffic lanes, with 
the city's boulevard grid. However it may be laid out, one consideration is 
always kept in mind, and that is that the density of traffic flow both to near 
and far points determines the number of feeder lanes at any given point. 

The job does not pretend to be complete. There are always new things to 
be done. But it is apparent that the city has not been redesigned for any one 
set of interests either commercial or realty or for the interests of certain 
individuals. It has been designed for communal use and for the means of 
transportation which the community uses above all others the automobile. 




IEW YORK STATE is more than one hundred and fifty times as large as 
New York City. However, between Montauk Point at the southeastern tip 
of the state, Lake Erie to the west and the St. Lawrence River to the north, 
one-third of all the miles traveled by all the vehicles in the state is traversed 
on the streets of New York City within an area at most 3 6 miles long and 
less than 1 7 miles wide. Average motor speed in the city is about 1 5 miles an 
hour. In the center of town, on well-regulated streets, cars creep along at less 
than half this "speed" at a bare 6 miles an hour. 

There are, of course, a great many people in the country who do not live in 
New York City and who make no bones about saying they couldn't be paid to 
live there. Many of them, quite reasonably, prefer to consider the traffic ills of 
that metropolis as a localized evil which only New Yorkers need suffer for 
their sins. However, it is not possible for anybody to remain unaffected by 
them. Throughout the nation, in one way or another, people pay toll to traffic 
congestion in some city where the flow of traffic is similarly hampered by 
channels that were not functionally designed. Something basic in America's 

[ 223 ] 


system shows itself to be out of balance. 
Midtown Manhattan constitutes less than 
i per cent of the total area of the City of 
New York, but it has 78 miles of roadway 
intersected by 407 street and avenue cross- 
ings. Into this area of 2 square miles every 
day there comes a steady influx of cars and 
pedestrians, hour by hour, until the peak of 
accumulation is reached during mid-after- 
noon. Then, after a short period of high tide, 
the movement reverses itself and humanity 
ebbs swiftly out. What this amounts to is that 
about 24,000 cars have moved in to take up 
the 141 miles of curb space, while some 40,- 
000 cars hourly try to share the right of way with nearly a million pedestrians. 
Result is that sometimes it takes a quarter of an hour to travel a single cross- 
town block. Against this rate, the 1 1 l /2 miles an hour which the old horse- 
drawn carriages used to average along Manhattan streets is an express speed. 
The streets of this city, with its more than 900,000 annually registered motor 
vehicles, are now carrying about 20,000,000 vehicle miles daily. Three- 
quarters of the traffic load is carried by one quarter of the city's roadway 

New York is a prize exhibit of almost everything, including sluggishness. 
But there are other cities with the same characteristics. Detroit, a city ded- 
icated to automotive progress, already confessed itself stymied by the time its 
main industry got into full swing. In 1805 a master plan was designed to take 
care of the city's future growth, but in 1924 an official report said that 
"Detroit is being strangled for lack of sufficient circulating facilities for its 


people." Unfortunately, this statement is as true today as it was then. 
Pittsburgh, with its famous triangle formed by the meeting of two rivers 
plus the skyrocketing of a half dozen industries also is a trouble point. The 
first street plan was drawn up in 1795 when the rivers were there, but not 
the industries. That street plan still operates. In attempts to offset the increas- 
ing pressure of traffic flow over such inadequate thoroughfares, Pittsburgh 
has tried and is still trying many methods of traffic control. One-way streets, 
coordinated traffic signals, the limited and the restricted varieties of curb 
parking, street carloading platforms with and without curb cut-back for a 
traffic by-pass, prohibited turning movements within intersections, no stop- 
ping during the rush hours, enlarged curb radii for easier turning, and so on 
in other words, splints, bandages and liniments applied to a battered traffic 

Nor are St. Louis, Los Angeles and Chicago immune. They all suffer from 
the same thing: street layouts too inflexible to adjust themselves to changing 
conditions and growth. All three are great department-store cities. The stores 
settled down where the traffic was heaviest, so as to be available to the most 
people. And then their presence increased traffic congestion in these same areas. 
An exceptionally heavy burden was thrown upon the streets in the vicinity 
of the stores. Office buildings multiplied. In St. Louis and Detroit office build- 
ings, the daily passenger traffic was estimated to be about four visitors for each 
worker. That meant still more stores and accommodations but no change in 
the street plan. One suggested solution is to stagger the working hours and so 
ease the agonies of the rush hour. In Los Angeles a number of large concerns 
and government buildings have done this. This measure acts as a palliative at 
the peak of the crisis, but it is not a basic enough remedy to solve the funda- 
mental problems: concentration and congestion. It is not only that the public 
is sadly inconvenienced by the immobile automobile, but the existence of stores 


and businesses is actually threatened by it. Often, after businesses feel them- 
selves threatened by the very congestion they have helped to create, they find 
they have to move on. Industry is tending to move toward the limits of large 
cities not only to escape taxes, but perhaps even more directly to escape the 
cost of traffic congestion. 

In New York City from the Battery to Houston Street and the upper limits 
of a quaint wilderness known as Greenwich Village, streets meander now 

Underwood & Underwood 

where cows meandered before. North of a somewhat indeterminable line 
bounding the "Village," near 14th Street, the city is laid out on a gridiron 
pattern of rectangular blocks. Horse-cars, steam locomotives, electric street 
cars and buses in turn have plied these streets. Elevated structures have been 
swung above them, and subways sometimes in two or three tiers have been 
dug under them. But in all this time the basic pattern has not changed. It has 
only been touched up in details. 


United Stat Army Air Corp 

All over the United States the problem has 
been the same. It has varied only in degree. 

One American city, however, did not de- 
velop haphazardly, but was laid out according 
to a definite, comprehensive, unified plan. Al- 
most a century and a half ago, Pierre Charles 
L 'Enfant was commissioned by George Wash- 
ington to prepare plans for the new capital 
city which Congress had authorized on the 
banks of the Potomac. L'Enf ant possessed un- 
bounded idealism and vision. His street layout 
consisted of east- west streets and north-south 
streets upon which a criss-cross of diagonal 
avenues was superimposed. He could not fore- DANGER LIES WHERE PATHS CROSS 
see that the squares and circles created by this mosaic of oblique avenues would 
finally become at once incommodious, useless and disagreeable. When the au- 
tomobile came, these squares and circles looked less and less monumental, and 
became more and more hazardous, until today these intersections have become 
one of Washington's greatest traffic problems. The elegant Dupont Circle, for 
example, has become a traffic nightmare. Nine thoroughfares feed directly 
into it. Today the District government is being forced to build overpasses and 
underpasses to try to break up such trouble centers. 

Almost every city has its Greenwich Village and its Dupont Circle. It is 
likely also to have its "Master Plan," by which an expanding scheme of rectan- 
gular blocks has supposedly been laid out to last for all time to come. And it 
also has its Traffic Problem. This adds up to one thing: the city and its traffic 
have become rival elements. When the tremendous concentration of motor 
cars first flooded the streets, it already seemed too late to rearrange the city to 


accord with the traffic. So instead of that, an attempt was made to rearrange 
the traffic to accord with the city. The result was stalemate. 

Minor rearrangements were made in the city system, of course. But such 
alterations were incidental, the product of immediate needs; they were not 
products of a general long-range foresighted plan. Cities have laid down car 
tracks only to have to tear them up later; they have built elevated structures 
and then pulled them down, tried one kind of traffic routing and then another. 
These rearrangements fall into two categories: first, traffic control, and second, 
street modernization. In order to see where they differ from real planning and 
where they approach it, the types must be looked at in detail. 

Traffic control by means of speed laws and stop-lights is wholly restrictive 
in nature. City traffic is regulated by "speed" laws to the point where it barely 
moves at all. However, it would not be fair to say that all this control has done 
is to slow down traffic. If all the laws were repealed traffic still wouldn't be 
speeded up. Perhaps the laws have not aggravated the problem, but they cer- 
tainly haven't succeeded in solving it. A newspaper report from Philadelphia, 
under the headline "Philadelphia Tries to Ease Congestion," says, "Continued 
efforts to reduce traffic accidents in this city through safety drives and traffic 
signal installations have resulted so far this year [1938] in a decrease of about 
10 per cent in accidents and personal injuries." But this increase in safety has 
been achieved at the expense of speed and comfort. 

Most current types of traffic control have an almost sardonic way of defeat- 
ing their own purpose. Take the efforts to provide adequate parking space 
without adding to congestion. This problem is usually "solved" by restricting 
and prohibiting parking in the city and is carried out to such an extent that 
it is often impossible for a driver to get anywhere near his destination. The 
common ordinance which permits parking only for one-hour periods defeats 
itself because it would require more than the total existing police force of the 

[ 228 ] 

city to enforce it. Recently a bold step for- 
ward was taken in midtown New York. Cer- 
tain crosstown streets were rid of parking 
entirely and then given the grand-sounding 
title of "express streets." But heavy trucks 
still lumber along them and back up in front 
of the doors at which they have business. Re- 
sult: for the one disadvantage which these 
streets used to have congested traffic there 
are now two disadvantages congested traffic 
and lack of parking facilities. 

Other parking solutions are even more 
paradoxical. The city of Toledo suffered from 
the malignant tumor called "double park- 
ing." One would think that the cure for this 
ill would have been to enforce the laws against 
double parking. Instead, a local specialist de- 
cided that on one side of the busy streets 
parking should be forbidden altogether. After 
this was done, the drivers who had formerly 
double parked illegally now resorted to park- 
ing, no less illegally, right next to the forbid- 
den curb. But authorities who felt the city's 
pulse claimed that the patient was improving, 
because now there was only one line of illegally 
parked cars instead of two. Another solution 
is angle parking, which increases the curb's 
parking capacity. But aerial surveys of streets 


in Boston showed that when allowed on average-width thoroughfares, angle 
parking greatly hinders the traffic flow. There is also the parking meter, which 
was first introduced in Oklahoma City. These meters, now in use in ninety 
cities, bring between three and four million dollars annually into the munic- 
ipal treasuries. They are a tax. But they are not a solution to congestion. 

There is one method, however, which does point the way to a future solu- 
tion. It is the construction of parking space directly underneath or actually 
inside of heavily frequented buildings. The newest building unit in New 
York's Rockefeller Center, for example, is provided with six floors in which 
over 800 cars can find parking space by means of ramps. The same idea has 
been incorporated, even more dramatically, into Chicago's Pure Oil Building, 
in which the interior spaces of thirteen floors are reserved for tenants' cars 
300 of them. 

The objective is to free the streets of clogged cars. Cities must plan and 
build for the future in such a way that parking will no longer be a problem. 
Years ago it was possible to build under the whole length of Manhattan a rail- 
way system with great skyscrapers standing on top of it. Would it then be any 
less possible simply to build garages under buildings? The whole picture of 
urban congestion would be changed if apartment houses as well as great office 
structures provided underground space, first to accommodate tenants' cars, 
and second, to make it possible for trucks to load and unload off the street 
within the building line. Given off-street parking space, transportation cannot 
but become quicker and more flexible. If maximum flow of traffic is to be 
attained, an adequate highway is no more important than an adequate motor 


Underwood & Underwood 








/ / 

*""""*-' terminal. It may well be that 

the next great building job for 
the American city will be to 
provide these terminals. 

In addition to parking re- 
strictions and regulations to 
relieve traffic congestion on 
the city streets, the widening 
of city streets to increase their 
capacity has been tried. In 
1908 the sidewalks of the then 
dominant section of New 
York's Fifth Avenue ( 2 5 th to 
47th Streets) were slashed to 
I make it possible to widen the 
street from 40 to 45 feet. The 
upper section later followed 
suit. It was a good solution at 
the time, and opened up the 
avenue to the great stores and 
buildings that crowd it today; 

CITY PARKING WITHIN THE BLOCK but it led to a dead end. Today 

Fifth Avenue is twice as congested as it was in 1908, and there is no more 
room for widening. The saturation point has been passed. 

All over the country, main thoroughfares copied Fifth Avenue's example. 
But in so doing they also copied Fifth Avenue's later history: a saturation 
point was reached, while on the other hand the automobile factories had not 
come near reaching their apex of production. City authorities, trying to ac- 


I I 

/ / 

N. Y. C. Bureau of Borough Works 


commodate traffic where no accommodations exist, have next resorted to the 
one-way street. The one-way express street is an extension of this ancient idea. 
After that the next step is the express highway through or around congested 
districts such as Chicago's Outer Drive and New York's West Side Elevated 
Highway and East River Drive. 

These innovations give hints of what could be done in the future. Already 
several city authorities have gone on from the stage of finding individual solu- 
tions to individual street problems to the stage of drawing up an over-all 
project to relieve an entire city. An idea brought forth for crowded Los 
Angeles is nothing less than a network of motorways whose segregated lanes 
will be reached by ramps and which will bridge every intersection. In busi- 
ness districts a 100-foot right of way is to be acquired. On that a special 
structure is to be erected. The first and second floors of this building are to 
be devoted to retail business; the third to the motor road; the fourth and fifth 
to parking space; and the floors above to offices. The author of this plan is the 
Engineering Department of the Automobile Club of Southern California. 
And the purpose of the proposal is prosaically stated: "to increase property 
values and raise the efficiency of the automobile to close to its rated capacity." 

Another plan, devised by Ernest Flagg in 1927, divided traffic into three 
categories: pedestrians, fast vehicles and slow vehicles. It proposed the build- 
ing of elevated automobile runways providing a special right of way for 
rapidly moving vehicular traffic. Under these runways parking space would 
be available for standing traffic. All present sidewalks would be narrowed and 
new ones would be created at the present third-story level of the buildings. 
The buildings themselves would be set back 25 feet from the street at the 
third story, thus giving more light to the buildings and street. Mr. Flagg 
realized that an entire city could not be rebuilt in this way, but he asserted 
that every new building could be designed so as to permit the ultimate accom- 


Futurama Photo by General Motors 



plishment of his plan on an extensive scale throughout most of the city. 

The essence of both plans is simply that the various categories or directions 
of traffic should be segregated. Traffic coming in opposite directions must be 
completely separated. Express highways must be built through congested 
centers to completely separate through traffic from slow local traffic. Pedes- 
trians and cars must be kept apart really apart. It isn't enough that the 
pedestrian be separated by the mere height of a curbstone from the cars which 
he impedes and which menace him. He must be put out of harm's reach. The 
pedestrian must be made into an efficient transportation unit too. 

So far, the pedestrian- versus-automobile conflict has been "solved," not by 
making things better for both types of traffic or even for one at the expense of 
the other, but by making both groups take turns being delayed at street cor- 
ners. The inevitable result is that neither is satisfied, and a growing antagonism 
has developed between them. It can only be corrected by having the pedestrian 
walk on a separate level all his own. 

To sum up: daily experience is showing the American people that motor 
traffic has bogged down; that traffic "control" has meant well but solved noth- 
ing; that "improvement" and "modernization" are fine sounding words, but 



mean less and less as the facts of traffic crowd them. There is not much chance 
left for tinkering. The plain fact is that there is simply not enough room in 
cities, under present conditions, to accommodate the traffic. 

One answer, and the simplest one, is that there are too many cars. Perhaps 
there is no need for private cars to come within certain congested areas of a 
city. Many passenger cars driving in a city come from suburbs, and it would 
be more practical for these people to come in on a subway system. Provision of 
clean, comfortable subways in which anyone is willing to ride would help 
cure this situation. Underground transportation should be made just as pleas- 
ant as travel in the present-day air-conditioned trains, and it could get people 
into the heart of town much faster and more economically than they could 
drive themselves. 

The urban motor car will undergo radical changes in the future. Private 
cars will form a smaller part of city traffic in proportion to the large number 
of smaller, cheaper taxis. The wheel base of all city automobiles will be re- 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


duced. Thus they will be easier to maneuver in traffic. Buses will be smaller 
and faster. These conveniences all combined will make it unnecessary for the 
1960 New Yorker to bring his high-speed rural car into the heart of town. 

In the preceding chapter, the American city of 1960 was looked at from 
the air. That first reconnaissance flight showed the feeders which served the 
city and the approaches which insured its future growth; it revealed certain 
broad divisions which broke the city down into the separate functions living 
as against working, manufacturing as against moving, and so on and it gave 
hints of the great rebuilding that had been going on. Additional details are 
uncovered when one comes down closer to view the great city. The observer 
is aware that as this grand plan is being worked out, many aims are being 
realized. But for the time being there is just one detailed aim which interests 
the observer. It is this: to see traffic in the city of 1960 sped up by just about 
100 per cent. 

The greatest blight area of the 1940 city 
occurred along its unstudied fringes. The 
greatest crowding occurred at the over-de- 
veloped center. In 1960 both sections have 
been entirely replanned together the first 
built up, and the second built down. Upon 
both there has been imposed a unified grid 
system of city blocks. The width of streets 
from building line to building line has not 
itself been altered ; but the most apparent big 
change is that each 500-by-250-foot block is 
a complete unit in itself. 

The majority of these blocks are made up 
of low five-storied structures. About every 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


tenth block consists of one huge skyscraper a steel and glass shaft reaching 
high into the air, set back with gardened terraces and separated from the next 
great tower by at least two blocks of large green park, a shaft which is built 
around a service and elevator core so that every rentable space has the maximum 
of light and air. Buildings are restricted to seven different heights. Adjacent to 


the buildings are recreational and rest facilities, annexes to the great sky- 
scrapers. Some lower buildings cover only part of the block, leaving the re- 
mainder to be landscaped. Parks cover one-third of the total land area, taking 
up entire blocks and groups of blocks. 

Looking at the streets themselves, there is revealed at once the main prin- 
ciple under which they operate. Pedestrians and automobiles are kept entirely 
apart. The crowds of shoppers are walking on sidewalks located at the second- 
story height of all buildings. At intersections, they bridge the streets. Store 
display windows are on two levels: sidewalk and street. The windows on the 
upper level are designed to attract the strolling window-shopping pedestrian, 
while those on the lower level are of a broader, more spectacular type, designed 
to catch the eye of the motorist driving by. Upper building entrances make it 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

unnecessary for the walker ever to shift to the lower level except when he 
wants to get his car or jump on a bus. Then ramps and escalators take him 

This lower motor level is no wider than was the 1940 street together with 
its sidewalk; but its traffic capacity is double that of the 1940 street. In the 
first place, its traffic lanes extend from building line to building line, not from 
curb to curb. Secondly, parking is done not in front of the buildings, but only 
within them. Third, room for turning into traffic as well as for loading and 
unloading is provided entirely within the buildings. None of the functions of 
the building encroaches upon the thoroughfare. The whole street level of the 
building has been cleared and opened up to become a terminal for automobile 
traffic, providing delivery and parking facilities for all requirements of the 
building without impeding the outside street traffic, as well as providing 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


elevators to the various car parking levels, waiting rooms for passengers, es- 
calators to the sidewalk levels, and the like. 

The streets themselves are all one way and of only two widths 100 feet 
and 8 feet. Their regulation speed is 3 miles an hour. Where several blocks 
are joined to form a park at street level, the streets ramp under them so 
that there are no breaks in the flow of traffic. This city grid is again crossed, 
at intervals of ten blocks each way, by a grid of express boulevards. They are 
one way also and are 100 feet wide, but since they are designed to ramp alter- 
nately above and below the cross-streets in a basket-weave pattern, they per- 
mit an uninterrupted, sustained speed of 5 miles an hour right through the 
heart of the city. Their turns at intersections are built along the lines of the 
motorway the principle being always to maintain uniform speed and never 
impede the flow. They are reached by parallel feeder streets from which ramps 

[ 243 ] 

lead up to them as the cars accelerate from 30-mile local street speed to 
50 -mile express boulevard speed. 

In 1940, street speed in the great city averaged about 15 miles an hour. 
Boulevard speed averaged about 25 miles. By 1960 both speeds have been 
exactly doubled. This doubling will involve a vast original building cost. 
But, as Robert Duffus says, "It is the absence of a plan, not the existence of 
one, for which a city or region should feel apologetic on purely financial 
grounds. The cost of doing only what is necessary to enable a city to function 
efficiently, once it has fallen behind in meeting the needs of the inhabitants, 
would probably stagger us if we could correctly estimate it. ... The sound 
city plan is first sound economically. It recognizes that a city cannot continue 
to exist as a civilized entity unless it earns social and economic dividends for its 
inhabitants." If we don't plan today, we shall pay tomorrow. 

We face an inescapable choice between planning and chaos. Our sprawling, 
tangled cities must be transformed. Our city streets must be redesigned. Just 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

as it is time for us to start replacing the forests which we have over-cut, it is 
time for us to let light and air into the cities which we have over-built. The 
cost will be great, although engineering studies made for the city of Chicago 
have proved that elevated highways can be designed at a cost much lower 
than that of street- widening projects. It is impossible to speed up city traffic 
by one hundred per cent, at this stage of the game, on a pittance. Twenty 
years ago the cost would have been much less; twenty years from now the 
cost will be much greater. But the cost of failure to do so will be greater still. 
No city can afford the stagnation toward which many are heading. 

Hope for the future lies in our determination to rebuild and redesign our 
cities to prevent the evils which have accumulated as a consequence of lack 
of planning. The success of the design, physical structure and economy of our 
future cities will depend on the enterprise and vision which we show today. 



I OR 1 

I ORWARD-LOOKING highway planning affects every person in the country, 
whether he drives a car or not. It reaches into every section of the country: 
rural regions, towns, suburbs and cities. Without good highways, these sec- 
tions become unhealthily isolated and ingrown. 

As far back as 1807 Albert Gallatin declared that in order "to unite by 
intimate community of interest the most remote quarters of the United States" 
what was needed was fast and easy communication throughout the country. 
As a safe and sound Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Gallatin was no wild-eyed 
visionary. What he spoke was good common sense, as true today as it was 
then. His proposal was simply that money received by the Federal government 
from the sale of public land be used to finance the construction of highways 
and canals. That, however, did not sound like common sense to the people of 
1807. It sounded like a violation of the Constitution. The cautious Jefferson - 
ians in power could never repeat often enough the clause which reserved to 
the several states all powers not specifically granted to the Federal govern- 
ment. They interpreted the founding document "strictly." As a result, the 


Federal government was prevented from making direct improvements within 
state borders save for the purposes of navigation in harbors, coastal waters, 
and the Great Lakes. Mr. Gallatin's plan went on the shelf. 

A century later there was another man in high office who was given to 
thinking in large terms about the needs of the nation. Theodore Roosevelt, by 
no means a "strict construe tionist," dug a canal. For that he was regarded as 
dangerously rash almost a public peril. All he had really decided was that 
Atlantic and Pacific shipping needed to be linked, and that the Federal govern- 
ment was manifestly the only agency that could do it. He also decided that 
since the Federal government was putting up the money, it should control its 
investment and run the show. 

Suppose that Theodore Roosevelt, inspired as he was by conceptions of a 
national destiny, had applied the Panama Canal type of thinking to the Amer- 
ican land itself, and declared that a system of direct highways was needed, no 
less than a waterway, to "unite by intimate community of interest the most 
remote quarters of the United States." There would have been strenuous op- 
position, but Roosevelts thrive on opposition. And the idea might have pene- 
trated to the American people that all they had done so far in the way of road 
building was to lay out a patchwork crazy quilt entirely without design. They 
might have learned right then that roads could be planned as one great system, 
and that such a system could have the effect of developing the country in line 
with its natural resources. The results today would be of incalculable value. 
The nation's roads today would be a very great national asset. The advantages 
of the new automobile could have been set to immediate use. 

But right there was the hitch. The automobile was still new. Not even 
Theodore Roosevelt had any idea of the possibilities of the motor car and of its 
coming significance to civilization. So money for road construction went on 
being spent the same old way. 




| Since Theodore Roosevelt left office, over a half million miles of 


highways have been built in the United States. In his day, only 
7 per cent of the existing roads were surfaced with anything bet- 
ter than gravel. Even today there are only about 25 per cent 
which have hard surfaces. It is interesting to reflect that if all the 
mileage that has been laid down and all the money that has been 
spent on roads, since the first Roosevelt's day to that of the second, 
had been laid down and spent on the basis of a plan, this would be 
a vastly different country today. But although more than thirty 
years have elapsed, there is still no plan for a national highway 
system. Roads are still not laid down in sparsely populated sec- 
tions in order to "unite remote quarters." In 1940, roads are laid 
down primarily between large centers. When "highway improve- 
ment" is undertaken, the usual procedure is to examine certain 
stretches where there are already many people, many roads and 
heavy traffic, and then to build more roads there to facilitate that 
traffic. This only results in encouraging still more traffic between 
these already heavily traveled and densely populated centers; and 
the final spin of the vicious circle leads from concentration of 
population and traffic into over-concentration. 

At the same time there are vast sections in the United States 
which remain underpopulated, isolated and under-developed. This 
unexploited territory is often valuable, potentially very useful. It 
includes some of our most beautiful land. But it is just out of the 
way. Roads can be built to correct this situation. But, to put it 
simply, as road builders we Americans have failed to see the rela- 
tion that exists between the transportation facilities we are build- 
ing and the population trends and economic changes that may re- 


suit from them. We have failed to regard roads functionally, creatively. 

The railroads did not stop at serving already-established population east of 
the Mississippi. They took the population out beyond the Mississippi. They 
knew that corn and grass lands were waiting there, that all that was needed 
was good men to farm them. They knew that if men were taken out there, 
they would soon create produce, and that the railroads would prosper by 
carrying that produce eastward. Therefore the railroad sent its rails out ahead 
of the population. But highways have always followed the population. 

Today America has left the stage where hasty road building in the wake of 
an increasing population is necessary. Does not that also mean that the high- 
way should leave the stage where it is merely passive? Highways can be made 
to serve a creative function. Because of the fact that in some sections of the 
country there is great overcrowding while in others there is great open space, 
new shifts in population are highly desirable. It is possible today to lay down 
roads in advance of this population movement, and so take a hand in deter- 
mining it. 

A traffic-flow diagram indicates the proportionate extent to which high- 
ways are used by the varying width of its lines. On a national traffic-flow map, 
the Eastern part of the country is covered with wide lines, showing that there 
are many roads carrying heavy traffic. Here, therefore, the major problem 
confronting highway planners is to relieve congestion of population and 
traffic. West of the Mississippi the lines are few and thin, meaning that roads 

Portland Cement Assn. 



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are proportionately few and the traffic light. Here, therefore, the problem is 
to develop the land. The Western area of the United States is by no means un- 
favorable to life. It is studded with health and pleasure resorts. Its scenic 
attractions are exceptional. Water for agriculture is becoming increasingly 
available as a result of dam construction and water control. Irrigation is more 
dependable than rainfall. America's greatest potential hydro-electric power 
reserves remain to be harnessed in the West; its largest forest reserves are also 
there; the natural wealth is immense. 

The United States has not reached the point, already passed by many 
nations, at which the total population becomes static. In the past twenty 
years its population has increased by more than 20,000,000. By 1960 it is 
estimated that the total population will have increased by another 15, 000, 000. 




Concentration is also increasing. The great cities 
are growing greater. Greater New York, which to- 
day has more than 13,000,000 inhabitants, will 
have, it is estimated, 16,000,000 by 1960. Along 
with this increase in growth is coming an increase 
in movement. People move about more freely than 
ever before. Motor traffic is expected to double in 
the next twenty years. The radius of traffic is also 
growing. In the East congestion is rapidly growing 
to the saturation point. To break up that congestion 
it is necessary to open up new ways out, to decen- 
tralize, to redistribute, to create breathing-space 
that is the coming need. It is a need that can be met 
first of all by a national highway policy. 

Over and beyond the inefficiency and obsoles- 
cence of highways, there are other factors which 


OF PUBLIC ROADS OF AVERAGE DAILY nolcl U P tne movement toward tree national dis- 

TRAFFIC VOLUME ., . , . -11 i n- 

tnbution. Une or these is local or sectional conflict 
more exactly, the short-sighted rivalries between 
certain states. These hurdles have been placed di- 
rectly in the path of a vital and growing American industry trucking. They 
damage not only this specific industry, but all aspects of national distribution. 
Lack of cooperation between the different states, and worse, active an- 
tagonism between them, threaten to stifle interstate commerce. 

Sixty per cent of all automobile traffic is for business purposes, according 
to the official road publication of the Federal government. In many sections of 
the country this is held up by all sorts of petty, conflicting state restrictions. 
Each state has enacted its own codes governing the permissible sizes and 



weights of vehicles. Different states have piled up a host of restrictions: Iowa 
requires trucks to show three green clearance lights ; the neighboring Missouri 
requires trucks to use no clearance lights. Such technicalities, costly to opera- 
tors, bewildering to drivers, have in many cases been put on the statute books 
through pressure brought by other transportation agencies. They create bar- 
riers at state borders. A dozen state lines have "ports of entry" similar to 
national customs offices. Only the extra imposition of state import duties is 
needed to make of the entire country a jumble of forty-eight separate sover- 
eign countries as far as highway transport is concerned. 

The Constitution of course prohibits the levying of any such duties. But 
in certain cases what might be called "border wars" literally paralyze high- 
way commerce. In 1932, for example, an Indiana State officer said: "We find 
something wrong with almost every Kentucky truck and are arresting almost 
100 per cent of the Kentucky truck drivers." 

These restrictions are as costly as they are silly. The Federal government 
contributes funds liberally for the construction and maintenance of highways. 
Therefore it has an interest in the whole national highway system. Over and 
beyond that, it has a responsibility toward national defense, and the further- 
ance of interstate commerce. Should state barriers across these roads be allowed 
to interrupt this interstate commerce? 

Many persons and groups have asked that the Federal government boldly 
take a more direct part in highway building, in order to increase national dis- 
tribution. National organizations such as the American Automobile Associa- 
tion, the Highway Research Board of the National Research Council and the 
American Road Builders Association, have carried on studies and research. A 
great deal of this work, though, has only scratched the surface and has not 
come down to the fundamental question of deciding what should be the basis 
of a national system. That the frame of mind of the nation today is sym- 



FROM "LIFE," 1907 

pathetic to some such sys- 
tem is proved by the fact 
that besides the highway 
plan proposed last year by 
the Chief of the United 
States Bureau of Public 
Roads, two bills provid- 
ing for such plans have 
been introduced into re- 
cent sessions of Congress. 

Under the Bulkley Bill, 
introduced in 1938, a United States Highway Corporation would be created, 
which would build and maintain a gridwork of ten national superhighways as 
straight as modern engineering could make them and with the most modern 
safety design. Three of these would run east and west, crossed by seven run- 
ning north and south. Each highway, made up of from four to twelve sepa- 
rate lanes, would be built on strips of property at least 300 feet wide. Addi- 
tional land would be acquired along the right of way under the procedure 
known as excess condemnation. The value of this adjoining property would 
be raised by the construction of the superhighways. The plan's sponsors believe 
that part of the cost of building the superhighways could be met by the resale 
of this land. 

Representative Snyder's bill, introduced in 1939, provides for the construc- 
tion by the Department of the Interior of nine superhighways, totaling about 
16,000 miles. This plan, basically very similar to the Bulkley plan, is still 
pending before Congress. Each highway would be 100 feet wide on a right 
of way 500 feet wide. The highways would not pass through any cities or 
towns unless there was no other place for the road. In case of an established 


.Yt York Times. 
Harry L. Newman 


Underwood & Underwood 

and improved highway already existing anywhere near or parallel to the pro- 
posed highway, it might be widened and taken in as part of it, provided it had 
been built to the proper specifications. The question as to whether or not these 
highways would be toll roads has not been decided. 

The Bureau of Public Roads, under the direction of Thomas H. MacDonald, 
was directed by the Federal Highway Act of 1938 to investigate the feasibil- 
ity of building three superhighways running east to west, and three running 
north to south, with an approximate total length of 14,300 miles. The routes 
were to be planned in relation to population distribution and were to pass 
through as many states as possible. Finally, subject to all previous considera- 
tions, the routes were to be located to achieve the largest possible tolls. 

In working out their plan on paper, the Bureau located the proposed high- 
ways entirely on new lines apart from existing roads, in all but two sections. 
It was recommended that the chosen locations by-pass cities and towns, but 
pass sufficiently close to them wherever possible to attract their traffic. The 
roads were laid on a right of way which varies in width from a 300-foot 
minimum in rural areas to a 160-foot minimum in urban areas. Seventy-five 
per cent are two-lane highways situated over on one side of the right of way to 


allow for additional lanes in the future. The rest are four-lane highways with 
a center parkway strip. 

After laying out specifications for such superhighways, and determining 
their routes, costs and expected traffic volume, the Bureau reported that such 
superhighways could not earn the cost of their maintenance through toll col- 
lection, and were thus not economically justified. As an alternative to the 
building of toll superhighways, the Bureau then presented what it terms a 
"Master Plan for Free Highway Development." This plan suggests the build- 
ing of a gridwork of inter-regional highways. Wherever possible, these high- 
ways are to embody alignments and improvements of already existing roads. 
In choosing revised location, the controlling thought was to provide reason- 
ably direct connection between major cities. The routes should enter and 
traverse all large cities by means of adequately designed facilities. Wherever 
necessary around large cities, limited access belt lines should be provided. The 
Bureau's plan calls for a total of 26,700 miles. 

All of these proposals show a tendency to link city to city in an arbitrary 
grid, which will act primarily as a palliative for present traffic ills rather than 
as a preventive for the future. 

The problem can be permanently solved only by better coordination be- 
tween traffic and the needs of the population. It is not enough to consider 


ATTLE/ [""**" . . 




present requirements; future needs must be anticipated. Congested highway 
areas must be redesigned. The national traffic-flow map of the future must 
show a more even distribution. Every day it is postponed the cost increases. 

The great public interest in national highways, and the number of pro- 
posals which have been made, have a reverse side. Unanimity of national opin- 
ion on any subject would be too much to hope for. There are a few organized 
groups in this country which fight relentlessly not only against projects for 
motorways, but even against the principles behind them. At a business meet- 
ing a few years ago, the president of a leading railroad company is reported 
to have said: "It is to the interest of our railroad that the highways remain 
congested. If there is anything which we can practically do to increase that 
congestion we will do it. There may be a need today for a through highway 
for motor cars . . . but we will oppose any such plans and will block the ma- 
terialization of any such highway, just as many years as we can. If the public 
don't like the congested highways, let them ride the railroad." 

Undoubtedly this attitude is not held by many people. The day of ruthless 
competition and bitter rivalry in the field of transportation is drawing to a 
close. By 1960, old feuds may be settled and all the energy and time which 
used to be given to destructive warfare may be devoted to the single purpose 
of perfecting our transportation and communication for the benefit of those 
who are most concerned the people. 

It is not sufficient to give up the present local method of hit-or-miss road 
planning, and substitute for that a method of building a lot of big roads on a 
grand scale. For the present travesty of planning, real planning must be sub- 
stituted. Road building as it is being done won't free the country from the 
likelihood of future congestion. But road building as the result of a compre- 
hensive plan to increase national distribution, eliminating local whims and 
fancies, ending aimless duplication of effort, taking in all the contingencies 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


of the nation's geography, economics, and population trend that is a very 
different thing indeed. 

The existence of vast stretches of "waste land" in a nation where metro- 
politan real estate sometimes sells for as high as $845.00 a square foot indi- 
cates a lack of balance which must be remedied. And the present time seems 
auspicious for such a remedy. Free trade between nations has been made im- 



Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

possible for the present. 
We must develop our in- 
ternal market. For this, 
waste land is no more 
tolerable than is inade- 
quate transportation. 

A planned highway 
system would take people 
from points of conges- 
tion toward the unex- 
ploited lands of the West. 
The Interstate Commerce 
Commission reports that 
of 125,000 communities 
of appreciable size in this 
country, 45,000 have 
either no rail service 
whatsoever or lack a 
freight station. They rely 
entirely on highways for 
their contact with the 
outside world. Six million 
farms, with a total nor- 
mal production value of 
about twelve billion dol- 
lars, depend upon public 
roads as the only means of 
distributing their prod- 

uce. Without those roads, there is no distribution. Where the highways of 
a national system go, commerce and higher land values and free movement 
will go. Increase a country's roads, and you increase its wealth. 




I HE American people are rich in many things. Above all, they are rich in 
union. Look at any of the empires of the past; in none of them did so great a 
number of people live together on so wide a land. In none of them did they 
enjoy such freedom and security. To all the things which Americans inherit, 
this union is the key. They inherit the rich, varied traditions of racial groups 
from all over the world which are now slowly fusing into a new amalgam, 
free of national and sectional antagonisms. They inherit these people's 
energy and belief, the fruits of their labor and the accumulation of their 
capital. They inherit almost every natural resource known to man and the 
knowledge of how to use these resources. A technology has been placed into 
their hands which surpasses anything dreamed of in other days. "Nothing that 
a people could want," Walter Lippmann wrote in his Life article, "The Amer- 
ican Destiny," "nothing that nations fight to obtain, nothing that men die to 
achieve is lacking, nothing except a clear purpose, and the confident will to 
make the most of all these things." 

To that union a special strength is given today by the newness of easy com- 


munication. It is a fact of importance that this is the first generation to have 
at its fingertips every possible means of mechanical transportation: travel on 
the ground, under the ground, in the water and under the water, and in the 
air. For the first time in history, man is now able to communicate with any 
point in the world, using telephone, telegraph, radio and now television. He 
can go any place or get in touch with any place. In this fact lie great poten- 
tialities. But there also lie great responsibilities. 

The scope of men's lives has always been determined to a great extent by 
their facilities for movement. Without a highway system, for example, men 
were limited in their reach to an area of about 50 miles around them. Their 
whole point of view, their form of statehood, their trade and their philosophy 
differed entirely from that of men who were able to move out of their valleys 
and widen their horizon. 

Whole civilizations have grown up and flowered along the lines of trade 
routes, and have withered when those routes were superseded by others. By 
means of travel and transport all the human cultures from cities to states 
to nations to groups of nations have gathered their cultural heritage or dis- 
tributed it. But in all previous areas when maps were faulty or ships inade- 
quate or mountain passes dangerous there was a great margin of the un- 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

known. It was hard to plan. So many factors could not be determined. There 
were still so many immediate things to be done to make life more tolerable 
that perhaps it was just as well not to look ahead too far. All the people of the 
world stood surrounded by rings of uncertainty. 

Modern communication and transportation have pierced to a great extent 
these rings of uncertainty. The margin of the unknown has been reduced. Men 
begin to see how their living conditions compare with those of people far away, 
to interchange experiences, correlate findings, make use of new ideas. No one 
in his senses would claim that today uncertainty and danger have been banished 
from the world. In Europe it is tragically obvious that facilitated transporta- 
tion and communication do not inevitably increase harmony between peoples. 
In fact, when these mechanical instruments are placed in the hands of rival 
nations, they increase and hasten conflict. But in America, where almost a 
whole continent is united indivisibly, the technical inventions in the fields of 
transportation and communication serve a constructive purpose. 

Our generation has seen a basic revolution in transportation. It has taken 
thirty years. We stand now at the point where this major change has been 
completed. What is done in transportation in the future will consist of adapta- 
tions of experiments already proven, or of further developments in means that 
already exist. In this respect, our generation is at a particular vantage point. It 
can look back upon a vast task that has just been accomplished. It can look 
ahead and foresee to some extent the natural results of all this the effects that 
such a change will have on future generations, on our grandchildren. 

In 1960, if transportation in America continues to advance as it has to date, 
the average person will be flying about in a small mosquito plane, a roadster 
of the air. The average car will be smaller, safer and more economical. Trains 
will be shorter, lighter, maintaining more frequent schedules. There will be 
giant trucks, fleets of trucks, trackless trains. Our grandchildren will travel at 


speeds which are unheard of today. Better 
farm machinery will reduce production 
costs and working hours. New tastes, new 
foods will be made possible. New methods 
of processing and packing and faster trans- 
portation will have improved the quality of 
foods. Farms will be feeding factories as 
well as mouths. Derivatives of milk are al- 
ready being used in pharmaceutical, plastic, 
paper, dyeing, leather-tanning, carbonated 
beverage industries, and we have only be- 
gun to find commercial use for skim-milk 
and whey-derived by-products. 

By 1960 there will probably be many 
new industries. Artificial fibers will have 
become a major industry. Textile filaments 
derived from coal, water and air are stronger 
and finer and more elastic than any fiber 
now in use. Threads of rubber and glass are 
already being woven into cloth. Fabrics 
will be poured like paper and made into 
clothes so cheap that it won't pay to launder 
g them. Plastics, clear as glass, strong as steel, 
5 inexpensive as clay, will find new uses in 


I homes, airplanes, automobiles. Air condi- 


1 tioning and refrigeration of homes will be 


| as common as heating them. There will be 


| flameless stoves and rubless washing ma- 


chines. Telephone, radio, motion pictures and television will have new uses: 
they may record messages, bulletins and even whole newspapers and books in 
the home or in the office. In architecture new materials, processes, pref abrica- 
tion, will tie up with the concept of planning. 

One of the most helpful of modern paradoxes is the fact that mechanical 
industrialism, which during the hundred years of its growth laid waste the 
land, used up the cities, and bruised the face of everything it touched, now 
offers as the fruit of its maturity such things as powerful tools, rationalized 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


techniques, precision, teamwork. For years there was talk that machinery had 
enslaved the individual, but now it can free the individual. It can do it most 
eloquently through housing. The functional sound-proof, air-conditioned 
room inside the well-planned building is only the beginning. The group of 
well-planned buildings the community is next. The country as a whole 
will follow. Living in such a world of light, fresh air, open parks, easy move- 
ment, the man of 1 960 will more naturally play his full part in the community 
and develop in mind and body. 

Some critics predict the doom of the skyscraper. The tall building, far from 



Futurama Photo by General Motors 

being a Frankenstein, is really a great possibility which we have not yet learned 
to use. The business center of a town of four thousand inhabitants usually has 
several blocks of two and three buildings housing its stores, offices and haber- 
dasheries. Doctors and lawyers are spread out. The Mayor's office has its own 
building. There are the movie theater, the bank, the telegraph office. Each 
little building has its own management, its heating, its upkeep and its incon- 
veniences for the shoppers who have to go in and out of door after door. 

In 1960 the shopper may go into the one tall building in which the whole 
community will be centered. The doctor will be there, and the butcher, the 
movie, the mayor, the grocer, the drug store, the pet shop, bank, post office, 
employment agency. In summer it will be cooled and in winter heated. Instead 
of six blocks of helter-skelter commercial buildings averaging three stories in 
height, there will be one block eighteen stories high, thus releasing five whole 
blocks for parks, playgrounds, parking lots or residential sections. Efficiency 
and ease will have moved on from city into small town. And paralleling all 
this, over the whole country, efficient highways will have been laid down. But 
these highways will not be laid down merely as required. They will have been 
carefully thought out and planned ahead in preparation for any eventuality. 

Many people have a fear of that word "planning." It has been shied away 
from in alarm as something that implied restriction of the individual. But 
intelligent planning is the only means by which the individual can fully de- 
velop his potentialities and opportunities. 

History reveals many examples of successful, intelligent long-range plan- 
ning. In America, the Founding Fathers laid out a plan of national govern- 
ment that has withstood the changes of time. The history of American in- 
dustry, often pointed to as a triumph of lack of planning, is also actually a 
history of brilliant plans which met success. The telephone industry, for ex- 
ample, whose network of wire has broken the isolation of farms, canceled out 


state lines, altered whole ways of doing business and increased the tempo of 
life, did not descend full-grown upon America; it had to be painstakingly 
planned, with detailed forethought spent on each aspect of the intricate prob- 
lem. And in this country today, $110,300,000,000 in life-insurance policies 
tell in eloquent figures the extent to which individuals plan and make pro- 
vision for the future. 

Today, just as the participation and encouragement of government in the 
work of science has grown steadily more important, so grows the need of its 
participation in long-term planning. Thousands of private enterprises, utilities 
and industries have set up agencies to study and coordinate their work, but 
none has gone as far as setting down a series of over-all principles. It has re- 
mained for government to do this. In 1933 the Federal government, recogniz- 
ing the need for such thinking in one of its great water-power developments, 
created the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was to consider all phases of 
life in the region: problems of the farmers, methods of hydraulics, elementary 
education, chemical engineering, agriculture, electricity, the rights of seven 
states within whose lines the project lies, the interests of private companies. 
The daring of this venture equals its magnitude. It has accomplished under 
one authority what never could have been done piecemeal, at various times, by 
various authorities 

One of the great corollaries brought out by the TVA was the recognition 
that in matters concerning natural resources and basic needs state borders can 
no longer be considered binding. In the past, many states were able to maintain 
a "splendid isolation," because, for geographic reasons, they felt detached and 
independent. But when railroads and highways which did not stop at state 
lines came along, the obvious fact sunk in that neither did rivers, mountains 
or the problems of land use, conservation and erosion stop at state lines. Plan- 
ning, which had been almost impossible when people thought purely in terms 


of political divisions, states, became possible when people began to think in 
terms of economics. Accordingly, various neighborly groups of states through- 
out the country have banded together and set up their own Regional Planning 
Commissions; and the work of these agencies encourages high hope for Amer- 
ica's future. The smallest of these, in regard to area administered, is the Port 
of New York Authority, set up jointly by the States of New York and New 
Jersey to unify the freight terminals and simplify transportation around their 
joint harbors. It has built bridges, tunnels and depots, and operates all of them 
at a steady profit. 

In the Far West the Colorado River Basin Compact between seven states, 
the entire Colorado River area, is vastly greater. In that region, every planning 
consideration is subsidiary to the securing of an adequate water supply. The 
development and use of the Colorado River affects the welfare of hundreds of 
cities, towns and villages containing millions of people. By means of this Inter- 
state Compact and the Federal government's great Boulder Dam project, set- 
tlers in the region are protected from floods; they are enabled to irrigate and 
cultivate hundreds of thousands of otherwise arid acres; they are able to elec- 
trify their farms and homes; and they are finding that as a result of those 
hydro-electric developments, various metallurgical industries are moving into 
the region. In the Pacific Northwest, a similar Regional Planning Commission 
has been created for Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The same set- 
up exists in New England, where six states have banded together in a planning 
commission to determine the long-range needs of the whole region. 

There are good examples of American planning, then, concerning natural 
resources and regional surveys, but there has never been an attempt to apply 
these ideas of planning to systems of transportation. The nearest to planning 
that a highway engineer ever comes is at a time of crisis when he is suddenly 
asked to solve a bewildering traffic problem which has arisen only because there 


never was a plan. It is this absence of real highway planning municipal, state 
and Federal that has caused the expenses for streets and roads to be multi- 
plied beyond reason. Planning, with knowledge of the past and thought for 
the future, is the basis of constitutional government, just as it is an essential 
part of any industrial management. 

The time has come to face the traffic problem as America is learning to face 
the resources and conservation problems. It can no longer be dealt with by 
waiting for more developments. Developments have already occurred. Their 
result is a pressing national emergency. America cannot do less than lay out, 
with the best forethought it can muster, a system of motorways which twenty 
years from now will not be a vast lost investment, but an adequate answer to 
growing needs. If these motorways are to be built, it can be done only under 
the authority of one great national plan. 

A plan to govern the flow and distribution of American motor traffic will 
concern itself with broad sociological and economic issues. Studies will be 
made of shifting population, future concentrations, location of vital mineral 
and agricultural wealth, industrial and agricultural trends in the exploitation 

of that wealth, in the light 
f changes that have al- 
ready begun. 

Examine a general map 
of the United States. The 
population centers of to- 
day may not be the same 
fifty years hence. Cities 
which now are prosper- 
ous may not be so then. 
Certain centers, like New 


York and San Francisco and New Orleans, which lie in superb natural harbors, 
will not fade in importance; nor will others which contain basic industries or 
produce terminals. But new cities will arise, as new regions certainly will, and 
the motorway plan must be so flexibly devised that its coverage can at any 
time be adapted and extended to take care of new conditions. The opening up 
of those sections of the United States which are now undeveloped or lightly 
populated but which, because of their advantages in natural resources, seem 
destined to future importance, is fundamental to the plan itself. The plan 
must permit certain sections of the motorway, in case there is no need for 
them, to be dropped without destroying the basic pattern of high-speed un- 
congested travel. The plan must consider not only the United States, but the 
countries to the north and south, and the probable relations of their people 
to ours. Canada and South America will probably be of more importance to 
the United States in the future than they are today. Routes will have to be 
designed to accommodate traffic draining through the United States from 
Alaska to South America. 

Contrary to accepted practice, the motorways must not be laid down using 
cities as their terminal points, nor must they be allowed to infringe on city 
boundaries or the city proper. They must connect with cities, ports and in- 
dustrial centers, as well as with existing inter-urban roads, by means of feeder 
roads, thus serving population centers without entering the actual concentra- 
tion points. They must be designed to enlarge the sphere of each individual 
motor-car operator; to develop road construction into a higher type of indus- 
try, using the full knowledge of all phases of engineering, prefabrication, 
permanent and resilient surfacing, illumination and automatic traffic control. 
While express motorways must be designed to carry fast, long-distance traffic, 
no existing roads need be scrapped. The country's 1940 roads will continue to 
carry local traffic, and their usefulness will be enhanced by connection with 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


the new motorways, just as rural telephone systems give a wider range of 
service when connected to the transcontinental trunk-line network that ex- 
tends throughout the country. 

On the accompanying map such a Motorway Plan has been worked out. 
This plan is based on a relatively brief, preliminary study. But, although it is 


necessarily tentative, it is a key to a final comprehensive plan. Its design sums 
up the basic requirements of such a plan. 

This map shows the country's principal population centers. Large black 
dots represent the larger cities, and cities with smaller population are shown 
as stars. Every city in the country with a population of 50,000 or over is indi- 
cated. The heavy lines represent the routes of the National Motorway System. 
Fine lines show the tentatively proposed superhighways of the Federal Bureau 
of Public Roads, for purposes of comparison. The scale on this map is so small 
that a pin point represents a distance of approximately ten miles. Because of 
this, only general routes are shown. Motorways won't really converge at the 
sudden angles which the map suggests. They will overpass and underpass each 
other, using wide-flowing developments of present-day cloverleafs; their traf- 
fic streams in the opposite direction will be completely separated, and individ- 
ual lanes in the same direction will be segregated by separators. Although on 
the map they look like solid lines shooting across the country, actually they 
are complicated mechanisms which differentiate sharply between through 
traffic and maneuvering traffic, and which provide automatically safe means 
for entering and leaving the motorways. Their lanes are designed for three 
separate and constant speeds of 50, 75 and 100 miles an hour. Their grades are 
constant, never excessive. Their curving radii are constant, and always gen- 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


xr:rM3 s-^L>&*i&L> / _ * rrr>*Cirw/ \//-\o\ 




CITIES 50,000 TO 500,000 POPULATION 

Norman Bel Geddes, 193? 

erous. All over the United States, the motorways are uniform and function in 
exactly the same way. 

The first step which was taken in planning this motorway system was made 
by laying out lines connecting all cities with populations over 100,000. This 
resulted in a maze of criss-crossing lines covering the country, dense in heavily 
congested sections, sparse where cities are spread out. A study of this map 
showed that there were certain sectional centers of population common to 
groups of cities. By joining these sectional centers there resulted a series of lines 
leading from one center to another. 

See how directly the lines lead from one region to another. Notice that a 
direct route connects Seattle and El Paso making possible uninterrupted 


travel from the northwest tip of the United States to the southernmost section. 
The various seaports on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts are directly connected, 
facilitating overland transportation of imports and exports. The important 
industrial centers are joined with the seaports. Nowhere do the cities contact 
the motorways, although they are all fairly close to them. The heaviest route 
of all avoids Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore as it 
steers straight toward Washington. Traffic moves in almost a straight line 
from Boston to New Orleans without passing through a single city. Yet no 
city of over 100,000 is more than 50 miles from a motorway, and most of 
them are half that distance. The motorways never veer from their course in 
order to avoid a city. Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York all of 
them are conveniently near these motorways. 

Look at the northernmost motorway, which runs east- west across the top 
tier of states. It starts about 50 miles outside of Boston. It sweeps slightly 
northward through Central New York toward Rochester, passing Buffalo on 
the north. It crosses the Niagara River above the falls; without swerving, it 
hurries through the province of Ontario, crosses Lake St. Clair north of De- 
troit, avoids Grand Rapids by 3 5 miles, and makes straight for Lake Michigan. 
At this point the lake is 5 miles wide. Never mind. There is no let-down on 
the motorway. It shoots directly across the lake on a long bridge. When it 
reaches shore, Milwaukee is well off to the south, Sheboygan close by on the 
north. It heads through the lake and dairy country of Wisconsin, increasing 
its northerly slant in order to make connections with the Twin Cities. When 
it moves into the great land of summer wheat, the drivers know they're in 
the Dakotas. Billings, Montana, dips by to the south, and the Rockies rise 
ahead. Still the motorway never veers. Its slow lanes may start to wind as it 
rises into the wild country beyond Butte and Anaconda, but the 100-mile 
lane darts straight through. All the lanes come off the divide together at the 


Columbia River. They head down the steep river basin for Portland. Just 
before getting there, they meet the great Pacific Coast Motorway and merge 
in a sweeping non-stop intersection. 

In order to realize the ground this route has covered and the ground that 
planned engineering has saved it from covering one had best look at the 
figures. By airplane, the distance from Boston to Portland is 2,800 miles. On 
the best 1940 highways, the distance is 3,320 miles 16 per cent longer than 
by airplane. The motorway distance is about 3,000 miles only 7 per cent 
longer than by air! All the routes of the Motorway System horizontal, verti- 
cal and diagonal are so straightened out over present roads that the air-line 
route is only 7 per cent straighter. 

The result of this National Motorway System is that traffic by car, bus and 
truck can move swiftly, safely, comfortably and economically over direct 
rights of way with a sufficient number of lanes to take care of the correspond- 
ing volume of traffic. This constitutes a new form of transportation. The prin- 
ciples behind it go beyond the immediate aim of linking sections of the coun- 
try in the most direct and economical fashion. Another principle is involved: 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison tO provide ahead of time 

for each coming half cen- 
tury's traffic growth. 
That means reaching out 
into the future of this 
country, its people, its in- 
dustries. Therefore it ob- 
viously can be organized 
and built only by full and 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


central authority. The organization which goes about this vast work must be 
a permanent one, as independent of factional politics as the Army and Navy. 
Implicit in it is the idea of a master plan, and the steps by which that plan is 
designed must be as carefully determined as the final plan itself. They can be 
listed as follows: 

1 ) The National Motorway Planning Authority should organize a research 
and engineering staff to develop its program and to direct and coordinate its 
work with the individual efforts of state, county and municipal programs. 

2) The Authority should collect, analyze and disseminate information 
about methods of highway construction as observed in all phases of scientific 

3 ) The Authority should develop new ideas and methods to bring about 
safety, comfort, speed and economy; these findings will be circulated to vari- 
ous construction departments and bureaus for incorporation into the nation's 
road system. 

4) The Authority should provide the nation with a plan that takes into 
consideration all the best things that have been done in road building so far 
and superimpose upon them a master Motorway System that will look far into 
the future. 

These steps, suggesting a most careful and studied approach, will be made 



even more deliberate by the fact that the National Motorway System will not 
all be built at once. The "go" signal for the construction of a new motorway 
will not be given until population flow, traffic density and other considerations 
indicate its necessity. National survey and research will, however, determine 
the right of way needed a good while before its construction is actually re- 
quired, and reserve it for that purpose. This long-range over-all planning will 
make it possible to secure the rights of way before emergency conditions 
cause a rise in land values. 

This is not an impractical, visionary proposal. Such thorough planning and 
organization is not unknown today. To cite just one example, refer once more 

[ 282 ] 

to the telephone industry. Every detail in this industry's intricate organiza- 
tion is anticipated and planned. When a new transcontinental or overseas 
cable is needed, there is no frantic last-minute rush to collect strands of cop- 
per. The cable, the result of years of study and design, is available. The cable 
has been built long before the need for it became an emergency. A traffic 
bureau, maintained just to study population movements, informs the com- 
pany of every change in commercial centers and the focal points of regions. 
The location of lines is planned in terms of this research. 

The same procedure must be followed in road building, because roads are 
not ends in themselves but means to ends. They depend on and are designed 
for human enterprise. Other inventions bring the world to us. But the car 
enables us to go out into the world ourselves. Communication of ideas and 
emotions thus established has the effect of bringing the country into a closer 
unity. In this way an enormous influence is brought to bear on the manners 
and morals of the nation. Old ideas of education are revised; new antidotes 
for ennui are discovered. Isolated communities are knit together and con- 
gested centers can spread out. 

Road building must be viewed in an entirely different light than it has been 
up to now. It has to be considered as something far more than merely provid- 
ing the means for getting people from one place to the next. The motorways 
must be considered as an essential part of the entire economic system of the 
country. The problem of traffic flow is only a step removed from the problems 
of resources, conservation, national defense, education and unemployment. As 
the American road builder of the future becomes a planner, he will grow into 
a key individual who is responsible to the whole nation. 



T is standard practice among highway engineers to calculate in figures the 
results chiefly in terms of economies in time and fuel consumption that 
will come from the building of a new road. With this motorway, the problem 
is the same only stepped up a thousandfold. The forecasting here rises to a very 
special plane. For these motorways, when added up together, do not amount 
to just so many thousand miles of new road. The principles behind their con- 
struction are those of freeing traffic and opening up land. What that amounts 
to isn't just "extension" or "improvement," but actually a new form of trans- 

It has been said before that every new form of transportation is, almost by 
definition, revolutionary. The effects of revolutions are felt through the en- 
tire economy. They may be shocks. They are also likely to be vast advances. 

The coming of the automobile itself had revolutionary effects upon Ameri- 
can industry. A vast new group of manufacturers came into existence. Mil- 
lions of men and women found new employment. An undreamed-of increase 
took place in the production of related industries. Original and ingenious 






manufacturing methods were devised to fulfill newly created needs. By 1939, 
it was found that every fifth dollar spent in retail business represented pur- 
chases of or for automobiles. An even more impressive indication of the eco- 
nomic value of the automobile was that one out of every seven employed 
persons in the country was engaged in the motor transport field. Even the 
competing railroads benefited from the motor industry, carrying one carload 
of automotive equipment out of every seven carloads of freight. 

These were some of the immediate effects of one new industry. The effects 
of a great motorway system must be calculated on an even broader basis. That 
the opening of new traffic arteries and the speeding-up of truck and passenger 
transport will result in greater use of automobiles and of the products that 
serve them is unquestionable. These new roads are not to be laid down for the 
motor car alone. As the national motorway system is built, distribution is also 
built. Travel radius increases. Travel habits are changed. Decentralized com- 
munities come into existence, population trends are changed. Cities tend to 
become centers for working, the country districts centers for living. A de- 

[ 288 ] 

mand for new products will be created which may far transcend the mere 
demand for motor cars. New roads open new communities for new housing. 
And the motorway system does far more than that. Questions of land use are 
raised; they may be answered by entire shifts in location of agriculture. With 
the re-studying of the use of land comes the possibility of tapping new re- 
sources. Opportunities are thus made for new industries. 

A national motorway system maintaining a high grade of efficiency will 
maintain the flow of goods to the consumer without interruption. Demand 
can be more easily predicted; supply will be more uniform, and to that extent 
business will grow more stable. With expanded markets, prices will become 
more uniform. 

Today only those sections of the country which are served by railroads are 
of economic consequence. Road development so far has followed population 
and commercial development, not led it. Roads have left vast tracts of farm 
land relatively inaccessible. By avoiding difficult mountain terrain, roads have 
left unopened regions that contain great resources. Every schoolboy knows 
that America's basic steel industry at the end of the nineteenth century 
flourished in places where coal was near at hand and to which iron ores could 
readily be transported. Future schoolboys may have to go further and recite 
how the new metallurgical industries which became basic toward the middle 
of the twentieth century grew up in places where hydro-electric power and 
the ores for alloys were near at hand. The older industry, centered in the Great 
Lakes basin, had waterways at its disposal, and railroads were built to serve it. 
The newer industries, moving into the upland of power projects and mountain 
ores, don't have waterways, and sometimes don't have railways. In 1940 no 
advantage could be taken of the great source of stored-up water power in the 
inaccessible mountain lakes scattered all over the country. The great motor- 
ways which alone could overcome this isolation hadn't yet been built. 

[ 289 ] 

For farmers the twin facts of increased speed and widened radius will be 
valuable in bringing their produce closer to market, bringing their farms 
within the orbit of an active economy. In turn, city housewives, buying a 
staple such as eggs, will not have to depend either on the products of what 
may be inferior nearby poultrymen or on "fresh" eggs that have taken a week 
to get to the city, via truck, terminal, train, and then terminal and truck 
again. High-speed trucks will transport the most perishable foods overnight 
directly from one point to another, eliminating the in-between delays. That 
will release many farmers from their age-old attempt to produce a certain 
fruit or vegetable which another farmer 1,000 miles away can produce 
far more efficiently. A day may come, indeed, when each piece of land is used 
only for those crops for which its soil is particularly well suited. 

While one is adding up the specific effects which a new motorway system 
will have, one must not overlook the tourist industry. The American tourist 
spends billions of dollars a year traveling within his own country. In Florida, 
tourist trade is vastly more profitable than the basic citrus-fruit industry. In 
California, it is nearly as important as petroleum. In Michigan, it is second 
only to automobiles, and in Maine, second only to farming. The principle that 
drives most tourists is to get as far away from their homes as the usual two- 
week vacation will permit. A 100-mile-an-hour motorway system will treble 
their range, opening up new vacation fields. 

The essence of the motorway idea is that of new opportunity. A demand 
for new ways of doing things will create demands for new things themselves. 
Yesterday's luxuries will be converted into today's necessities. The lifeblood 
of industry is constant expansion. Economic recovery and prosperity are 
achieved, not by suppressing industry but by creating more industry. More 
industry puts more people to work. What holds America back from doing 
vital deeds today is not, as in some countries, exhaustion or even, primarily, 

[ 290 ] 


uturama Photo by Richard Garrison 


fear of war. There is no lack of individual courage. But there exists a certain 
public suspicion of united effort. No one denies that America is strong and 
rich, that it has vast possibilities, but people dispute about the ways in which 
America might realize these possibilities. The land is vast, and so are its prob- 
lems. But vaster still are the rewards which will come to the generation that 
ceases to shrink from great vision and great labor. People will see that if roads 
are designed specifically for their traffic, then whole cities too ought to be de- 
signed specifically for the business of cities. It is not the business of cities to 
serve as residential centers. It is their business to serve as occupational units, 
nerve-centers, headquarters. Then they should be designed as such. 

The obverse of this is that the same kind of thinking will be applied to the 
residential areas as they move out from congestion, bad air and blight. People 
will learn that the method of dividing suburbs into square blocks fronted with 
tight rows of houses doesn't make them suburbs at all, but just transplanted 
cities. When new outlying communities are built, they will be planned long 
before the houses go up. Streets out of reach of through traffic, underpasses 
for pedestrians, and dwellings will be set to take advantage of topography, 
the position of the sun, the prevailing currents of the air. Outdoor recreation 
will not be provided for as an afterthought. Apply this thinking to a mill 
town along the Monongahela River, where thousands of families live along- 
side the grimy mills. Those towns were set up when transportation was diffi- 
cult. With an adequate highway system to transport them back and forth, 
these families could be moved 30 to 50 miles away from their place of work. 
A day will come when factory labor lives not in shanties on the other side of 
the tracks, but in healthy uplands between forest and stream. 

Farms will center around what might be called an agricultural terminal, 
managed by the community of farmers for the common purposes of storing, 
selling, and shipping. Rural isolation will give way to rural cooperation. 

[ 292 ] 

By eliminating friction and the jams in social life today, planning makes 
for health not alone the physical health that one may expect from decentral- 
ization and free movement, but for mental health as well. The sociologist 
Charles H. Cooley merely reiterated a widely felt suspicion when he stated, 
"The extreme concentration of population at centers has deplorable effects 
upon the health, intelligence and morals of people." When the time comes and 
transportation finally realizes its purpose namely, to free men from bondage 
to their immediate surroundings it is not only their bodies that will be re- 
stored by sun and air and contact with nature. It is their minds as well. 

Motoring is one of the most popular recreations there is. It promotes the 
sense of freedom that comes from greater mobility. It introduces variety, 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 
'*%, * 

v>; :^ 



Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

change of scenery, a greater social diffusion, a widening of the horizon. 

This freedom of movement, this opening up of what is congested, this dis- 
carding of what is obsolete all add up to one thing: interchange inter- 
change of people, places, ways of life, and therefore modes of thought. The 
American nation is not going to be able to solve the major problems facing it 
until its people of various classes and regions the workers, the intellectuals, 
the farmers, the business men get to know each other better and to under- 
stand each other's problems. 

An America in which people are free, not in a rhetorical sense, but in the 
very realistic sense of being freed from congestion, waste and blight free to 
move out on good roads to decent abodes of life free to travel over routes 
whose very sight and feel give a lift to the heart that is an America whose 


-. k 

Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 


inner changes may far transcend the alterations on the surface. If city dweller 
can know the land, Easterner know Westerner, the man who has lived among 
mountains know harbors and the sea, then horizons will be broadened, in- 
dividual lives will grow. Along with the interchange, there will be plenty of 
diversity. And diversity whether racial or geographic is a basic heritage 
of America. And out of that very interchange of diversity will come another 
thing something which in this era of misunderstanding and conflict and war 
may be the most essential thing of all. Our country was founded on it. We 
call it unity. It is not a unity imposed from above, such as exists under dic- 
tatorship, but a unity based on freedom and understanding. 

A national motorway system will have still another important effect. It will 
supplement American military defense. Mobility has always been the keynote 


of warfare from the beginning of time, and today with the highly mechanized 
transport developments in military machines this factor reaches its highest 
importance. The value of military machines increases in direct ratio to the 
value of the roadway over which they maneuver. An army which can arrive 
at a point of attack in the shortest possible time is an efficient army. Delay is 
fatal. Artillery equipment which cannot be moved to a danger zone quickly 
when it is needed is useless artillery. The national motorway system would 
enable almost instantaneous transport of men and equipment to any point in 
the nation, east, west, north or south. The bulk of our military force could be 
shifted from one extreme section of the country to another in a day or two 
at the most. Fast and efficient air service could not accomplish this because it 
is too expensive and because it cannot handle the great bulk required. Fast 
and efficient train service would not be adequate either, because the train is 
not as flexible a vehicle as the motor car. Furthermore, an express motorway 
system of this nature would avoid all cities and towns, which would not only 
have the effect of speeding up the mobilization but of spreading it out, helping 
to avoid the dangerous concentration of men and equipment which makes war 
against innocent civilians in cities such a ghastly aspect of modern war. Really 
fast land transportation without danger of accidents could well be the number 
one asset of a military defense system. 

Many aspects of military defense must be regarded as an unfortunate neces- 
sity because they serve no positive, creative peaceful function they do not 


Futurama Photo by Richard Garrison 

provide us with more food, better housing, better health, better working 
conditions, more economic security. In fact, money has to be spent on them 
which might otherwise be spent on internal improvements. But national 
motorways are at one and the same time both an effective instrument of 
military defense and a constructive aid in internal improvement. 

We all hope that America will not become involved in Europe's tragic war. 
Let us build American motorways which will help us to stay out and which 
will, at the same time, help us make the most of this country's peace-time 

To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go, 

To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to 

gather the love out of their hearts, 
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind 

To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls. 



Norman Bel Geddes 

The Author of Magic Motorways 

Norman Bel Geddes was born April 27, 
1893, in Adrian, Michigan. He left public 
school in the ninth grade to begin and com- 
plete, in a period of six months, in Cleveland 
and Chicago, the only academic art training 
he had. In his teens he painted portraits of 
such persons as Enrico Caruso, Brand Whit- 
lock, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, etc. He se- 
cured a position in a leading advertising 
agency in Detroit by offering to work without 
salary; after six months he was made the 
firm's art director at the age of twenty. In 
1916, a play which he had written led to his 
designing six productions in Los Angeles, the 
first being Zoe Akins' Papa. 

In all he has designed over two hundred 
theatrical productions plays and operas 
among them the famous setting for Max 
Reinhardt's The Miracle. In 1925 Geddes 
visited Hollywood and designed movies for 
Cecil De Mille and D. W. Griffith. He has 
produced plays as well as directing and de- 
signing them, including Jeanne D'Arc with 
Eva Le Gallienne in Paris, Lysistrata with 
Miriam Hopkins, Fay Bainter and Ernest 
Truex, and Dead End. He was the creator 
of the popular Futurama, the outstanding ex- 
hibit of the World's Fair, 1939 and 1940. As 
a designer, he has originated and improved a 
wide variety of everyday objects that enter 
into our American life. He is a man of almost 
unbelievable energy, irascible and unpredict- 
able at times, but loved and admired by a 
vast circle of friends that even includes his 


for a LIFETIME Library 


I. The Genesis of the New Deal II. The Year of Crisis III. The Advance of 

Recovery and Reform IV. The Court Disapproves V. The 

People Approve. Fiye volumes, boxed. 


v <r__ 


Complete in a beautiful four-volume set, boxed. 


Complete and unabridged in four volumes, boxed. 



Ittion, i 

The third and standard edition, complete and unabridged. 



All the extant tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and the 

comedies of Aristophanes and Menander. Forty-seven 

plays in a variety of translations.